On Monday night, the Central Cranston Crime Watch held their sixth community meeting at the Park Theater with their largest crowd yet of concerned neighbors, police officers and city officials. Under the direction of Diana Gordon, owner of Antiques in the Attic, more than 100 residents attended the meeting.
What began as a small meeting in a church basement two years ago has grown into a larger group of concerned neighbors and team street captains (volunteers who alert neighbors of suspicious activity in their area and help to organize crime watch activities). The increased awareness has led to several arrests arising from resident tips.
In attendance at the meeting were Mayor Allan Fung and Chief of Police Colonel Marco Palombo, who presented the Crime Watch with their official crime watch signs. The signs will be put up along the streets in the Auburn and Eden Park neighborhoods that are currently being monitored by volunteer street captains. Approximately 10 signs will go up to start the crime prevention campaign.
Cranston Police Lieutenant Stephen Antonucci, who is in charge of District 1 and the neighborhood falling under the umbrella of the Central Cranston Crime Watch, fielded comments from residents and shared his thoughts on crime prevention. State Senator Josh Miller and State Representative Arthur Handy were also among the guests in the audience.
The theme of the meeting was to present neighbors with tips for keeping safe from home burglaries, as 10 have occurred in the area in the past month, according to police statistics.
“Most burglaries are during the day,” said Col. Palombo. “Locked doors and neighbors watching out for neighbors go a long way in fighting crime.”
"The goal of our meeting tonight is to give people different means and ways of keeping crime out of their homes," Gordon added.
Jeff Owen of the Lock Shop in East Greenwich spoke about the different types of locks available to homeowners, while Jerry Giacobbi of American Alarms and Richard Cragin of Ocean State Electronic Security Systems, both located in Cranston, discussed options for security systems.
Burglaries are one of the major causes of concern in the community, and a large part of the meeting was dedicated to preventing future break-ins. Some tips offered were to upgrade locks and, if possible, purchase an alarm system; lock windows and doors at all times; keep all valuables in a secure place or locked in a safe in your home (potentially not in your bedroom, for that is the first place a burglar would look); keep all valuables out of view; and keep lights in the front and back of your house to scare off any potential burglars.
Additional tips were to keep the number of the local police near your telephone, keep crime watch stickers on your windows so it can be clearly visible to a potential criminal, and never confront the perpetrator.
Col. Palombo stressed that the city has made progress in crime prevention.
“Take away the crimes of convenience," he said.
Unlocked homes and cars continue to be crimes of convenience, and the first line of defense must come from the homeowner or car owner by locking doors.
A 15-year veteran of the Cranston police department, Lt. Antonucci said, "No one knows neighborhoods better than the people who live there."
After all presentations were made, there was time for a question-and-answer segment with the police department members. Most questions surrounded how to keep informed of burglaries in specific neighborhoods. A database is being worked on and will be available via the Cranston Police as well as the Central Cranston Crime Watch website, www.cccirimewatch.org.
"We came tonight so we can help keep our family and Cranston safe," said Susan Gainor, a resident of Cranston.
For more information on future meetings and activities of the Central Cranston Crime Watch, contact coordinator Diana Gordon at 461-0916.
Jessica Montecalvo is a student at Pilgrim High School working on her senior project in the field of journalism with Herald reporter Meri R. Kennedy.