NORTH KINGSTOWN – The economy is down and thievery is up.
According to North Kingstown Police Capt. Patrick Flanagan, a recently-promoted veteran with 24 years on the force, certain crime cycles can be observed. North Kingstown is starting a new one: stealing metal to resell as scrap has become the hot trend.
For instance, Flanagan says, “There was a kid the other night driving a pickup truck out on the base [at Quonset-Davisville], and an officer sees the back end of the truck dragging on the ground.” According to Flanagan, when the officer pulled the truck over and looked in the back he found “seven or eight guardrails from a Cardi Construction site.”
The alleged thief, a juvenile, was taken to the police station for booking.
“Somebody went into the old [abandoned] Bald Hill Nursery on Route 2 and cut the pipes,” Flanagan continues. “They took all the copper plumbing pipes. They’re going into empty houses that are for sale or in foreclosure and taking everything that’s metal.”
There was even a resident of Newcomb Road who inadvertently helped robbers. He’d stacked up scrap metal in his yard, making it easier for thieves to make off with it.
Plain old-fashioned shoplifting is on the rise, too, with reports indicating that Kohl’s, on Gate Road in Quonset, and the Walmart on Ten Rod Road are most popular. The fast-fingered have made it out of the stores with such items as fishing lures (Walmart) and jewelry (Kohl’s), but have been caught by security personnel and turned over to the police.
In one instance, a woman who’d filled her purse with fashion accessories told the officer she knew she didn’t have any money but felt like shopping anyhow.
Other crimes are appearing frequently in arrest reports, especially domestic abuse and motor vehicle violations.
Sadly, says Flanagan, domestic assault is something that’s always occurring, often with the same result.
“It’s a cycle. We arrest the [perpetrator] who goes to court and then the no-contact order gets dropped. They have counseling and the couple gets back together and it all starts over. They [the victims] don’t want to leave the relationship.”
Warmer weather signals the beginning of DUI season. After a winter where drag-racing, drunken house parties with underage participants and driving on suspended licenses cluttered the police and court logs, police say many people will be topping off a day of revelry by getting behind the wheel.
“We have a lot of DUIs in the summer,” says Flanagan. “People drink all day at the beach and then drive north to get home, so they have to drive through North Kingstown. We also get quite a few [drinkers] returning from Newport.”
Meanwhile, the North Kingstown police and troopers from the Wickford Barracks of the Rhode Island State Police, are on the lookout.
Spring is not the only thing that’s in the air.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.