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Is There A Crime Problem In Downtown Pawcatuck?

A break-in at McGill Chevrolet over the weekend and a subsequent petty crime spree underscores a larger question — what's going on in Pawcatuck?

A blood-spattered petty crime spree in downtown Pawcatuck early Saturday morning began at Mcgill Chevrolet on West Broad Street and wound its way from Chase Street to Moss to Stanton to Morgan before ending in an arrest. At Mcgill, it is the second time in six months a crime has been committed there, and the owner says he has had enough.

In addition to the weekend excitement, in January there was a rash of home break-ins in the same area that had residents on edge. Arrests were made in those cases. In the residential burglaries, no one was home but forced entry was used.

In the most recent case, police arrested Dwayne Eugene Hazard, 26, of 52 Franklin St., Westerly, RI after he allegedly broke into McGill Chevrolet, and then broke into at least seven cars between the dealership and Liberty Street, where he was arrested at his girlfriend's apartment.

Hazard broke a rear window to get into the dealership building at around 12:30 a.m., Saturday, and then broke another to get out, leaving a bloody trail for investigators to follow, Officer Ed Cullen said.

He was charged with one count of third-degree burglary, four counts of sixth-degree larceny from a motor vehicle, nine counts of third-degree criminal mischief, one count of criminal attempt to commit sixth-degree larceny and six counts of simple trespass. He was also charged with failure to appear in court from a separate warrant.

Cullen said all the cars that were broken into were not locked, and he urged residents to lock their vehicles. Some of the cars that were broken into Saturday morning were parked in driveways, and some were on the street.

At the car dealership, the two windows were fixed on Saturday, said Mcgill president Sean C. Mcgill.

Mcgill said that once inside the building, the suspect went into a customer's car that was there for service, leaving blood all over the inside.

"My alarm is on a 30-second delay, and so when it went off, it must've scared him," Mcgill said Monday. "Thankfully, the alarm system did its job. The alarm saved us, with the exception of the two windows.”

Mcgill said this is the second break-in at the dealership in six months, after 20 years of no issues whatsoever. The first time, a car was stolen off the lot, he said. In addition, he said, cars that are parked in the front and back lots are damaged on a regular basis.

Mcgill said conditions in the neighborhood have deteriorated.

“We have had a lot of issues lately. Just last weekend, a car was hit in the front (lot). There is trash, and beer bottles, and vomit, and even feces all around when I come in Monday morning. It’s nasty. The police are great, especially around closing time at the bar next door, but the last few months have been bad.”

Mcgill said he has had enough, and he plans to seek a meeting this week with First Selectman Ed Haberek Jr., Police Chief Darren Stewart and Fire Marshal George Brennan to talk about what can be done.

He is also installing motion sensor lights around the building, and taking other precautions that he did not want to make public. It is all costing him money, however, both the security improvements and every time something is damaged.

“It’s too bad,” Mcgill said. “I have been here for years and years and I never had a problem. Now, every weekend night, I wonder am I going to get a phone call from the police. It shouldn’t be like that. I am at my wit’s end.”

Stonington Parent March 19, 2013 at 01:54 PM
This is awful, I remember a time when it was rare to hear about any crime in Pawcatuck/Stonington and now it's every week! I never used to lock my doors when I was home but now they are locked when home or not, day or night and same with my car.
Sir Michael Weaze'l March 19, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Here we go again- the recent issues which I'am not going to get into (censorship). Are just the beginning. Vacant houses, flop houses, squatters and Oxford houses. Turning into Grubville USA. It will continue to deteriorate folks, the adjoining area Westerly also has fill of vagrants and goons out on the prowl for booze scurrying out of alleyways. Hmm I wonder if its got anything to do with all the muti- family subsidized by the you know who thingies . Bout a year or two into turning into a Norwich/Allentown.
Donna Pearlman March 19, 2013 at 09:25 PM
There is a severe crime problem in downtown Pawcatuck which even caused me to flee my own residence there and I am temporarily living with friends and family before deciding whether it is safe to move back. The police do a great job but I personally think the problem is the amount of rental properties and rooming houses that do NO BACKGROUND CHECKS on who they rent to, I have had personal experience with this and complained about it to landlords and contacted our town first selectman, our congresswoman and the police. When I lived at the Elm Tree Inn the landlords did not even check employment and had just started to require photo ids from residents and did not do police record checks. I was lucky to leave there with most of my possessions and my life, in my opinion. There is an inexpensive program to run police background checks on potential tenants that I know is used at other local rental properties and motels in Stonington. Also when I lived in New London they had police on foot patrols and bicycles and I think that would be a great thing if there was a more visible on foot presence and not just in cars.
TheBeesKnees March 19, 2013 at 11:44 PM
We can all thank the casinos for this! We were all happy before they came. Local business flourished, restaurants were everywhere, people had work. Then the casinos came, Norwich hospital was closed, Pfizer shut downs, on and on and on...then the problems started, buildings were abandoned left & right & trouble was everywhere!
Down with elm tree March 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM
GET RID OF THE ELM TREE INN NOW!!! The place is destroying this entire area . It is the root of the problem! When will the town realize that and do something about it? My family moved here recently with the hope of raising our child in a safe area, and we are hoping we did not make a mistake. Down with the Elm Tree!!! It's a breeding grounds for degenerates and skells! NOTHING BUT TROUBLE.
Donna Pearlman March 24, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I could not agree more that the Elm Tree Inn is destructive to the entire area, I tried to think differently but changed my mind swiftly when I discovered the residents were responsible for the house burglaries in the area and more. I told the landlords the residents that were arrested for this later that the people were dangerous, boasting of having guns, trying to sell stolen property and more and they did not care. I told police and local officials and the residents turned on me and attacked me but I know I did the right thing. As I said, I fled there feeling lucky to still have my life and most of my possessions. I still have to go to court possibly for an "infraction" when I was fighting for my life there. I am still suffering enormous mental damage from the experience and considering a massive lawsuit against the landlords for their gross negligence. I had to work for them (they make the residents work for them off the books) and I saw the lack of background checks and care for residents and the community. It is disgusting that the mostly absentee landlords paint themselves as helpers of poor people when they are just taking advantage of them and doing anything for a rent buck.
Bill Kelly March 24, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Agreed. Elm Tree attracts trouble. Huge Eye Sore to Pawcatuck/Stonington. It is a halfway house. I hope they do background checks on residents. Last thing we need is a convicted pedophile across from the elementary school. Too many incidents. Theres never any police patrol on Pequot Trail, its turned into a highway!!! Where are the police all day?? certainly not patrolling. Wake up First Selectmen, enough is enough.
Donna Pearlman March 24, 2013 at 01:15 PM
The Elm Tree does not do background checks on residents. When I was renting rooms for them they had tenants fill out a form, and I instituted the taking of photo ids. I begged the landlords to pay for a simple inexpensive program such as that used by reputable establishments (e.g., the Stonington Motel) to check to see if residents had police records and/or outstanding warrants and they won't spend the money they are cheap as could be. I also could not understand why they "hid" people with outstanding warrants for arrest in Rhode Island in the Elm Tree in Connecticut (check out all the residents fleeing out the back fire door when a police cruiser parks in front). I told them time and time again about the massive drug dealings I saw there too, steps away from the Middle School up the street. I also believe a registered sex offender lives there currently too but I do not have proof. Last summer I worked with the exchange students from China and tried to shield them from the worst of the people there. Then when they left and the landlord was putting anyone who had the money in the rooms I quit working for them and it was a nightmare from which I still suffer effects. I do think the police try very hard and our First Selectman is very responsive but the landlords just do not care and need to be made to do so. Also while I was there in a year three people died of drug overdoses and drug related incidents. It is a blight on the whole downtown I believe.

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