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North Adams Neighborhood Watch Captains' Meeting

North Adams Neighborhood Watch

The revitalized city Neighborhood Watch program will hold its first block captains' meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. at 61 Main St. in Suite 218. The meeting's being hosted by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Police Department and City Hall.

This meeting has been called in response to the heightened community concern about neighborhood crime and in follow up to the citywide Neighborhood Watch meeting held last Thursday. Anyone interested in being a neighborhood leader and liaison to the Neighborhood Watch Team is encouraged to attend. The captains' meeting will include a discussion of the breakdown of neighborhood areas, organization of neighborhood watch meetings and community communication. 

Organizers say the expectation is that from this meeting, captains can return to their communities and begin the implementation of neighborhood watch in their designated areas. 

It is important that as many neighborhoods as possible participate and have neighborhood leadership in this community initiative. Call Ashley Benson at the Coalition at 413-663-7588 with questions or if you are considering participating. The meeting is open to the public.

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Crime Watch Page Created for North Adams

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There's a new crime watch page on Facebook for city residents.

The page was created by Jennifer Breen Kirsch, a local attorney who's become active in crime prevention after her parents' home was broken into days after Christmas. Kirsch, working with the city and local organizations, has spearheaded the community watch group.

The community effort has been prompted by a wave of break-ins that came to public attention last fall after a number of break-ins in Clarksburg and Stamford, Vt. A suspect believed to be the culprit in the majority of them — and dozens of others through Berkshire and Bennington (Vt.) County — was arrested and charged. However, several of those burglaries have not be resolved and numerous others have occurred in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Cheshire over recent months.

North Adams held a community meeting on Thursday night at City Hall to discuss crime and neighborhood action to prevent it.

The new Facebook page states:

Please join the new Neighborhood Crime Watch Group sponsored by Mayor Dick Alcombright, the NAPD through Officer Mark Bailey and Commissioner E. John Morocco, community representative Jenn Kirsch, and the NBCC, through Ashley Benson and Al Bashevkin. To find out more, please post questions and we will quickly reply. Our goal is to reduce the crime rate, as a community, in conjunction with City Hall and the NAPD. We need volunteers and neighborhood captains to run meetings. If you are interested, Officer Bailey, along with members of the team, will conduct a meeting for you and your neighbors, at your home. Let's unite under this common goal to reduce crime in our city!

 

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North Adams Urging Crime Watch

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is hosting a community meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at City Hall to discuss neighborhood safety and crime watches. Mayor Richard Alcombright, whose home was burglarized last spring, talked a little about the issue at Friday's Northern Berkshire Community Coaliton forum.

The call for a crime watch is prompted by a spike in burglaries in the city and other parts of Berkshire County and Southern Vermont. The first indication of a rise in the area began last fall with a series of break-ins, many of which police say are linked to a Pittsfield man, Stefan Veremko. More recently, homes in North Adams, Adams, Cheshire and Williamstown have been broken into, including the parents of Jennifer Breen Kirsch.

Kirsch, a former Middlesex prosecutor, criticized the handling of the case and is now spearheading efforts to develop local crime watches.

"I think it's a bold attempt. We're going to bring the city, we're going to bring the private citizen, the Community Coalition together and, hopefully, folks will show up and consider the neighborhood watch as a solution to stopping crime in their neighborhoods," said Alan Bashevkin, executive director of the coalition, of next week's meeting.

Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco urged residents to contact the police about starting a neighborhood watch.

"Call us up. We'll show you [how] and we'll guide you through it," he said. "And we won't just leave. We'll show up every month at your meeting. ... But it takes a neighborhood to start a neighborhood watch program it takes somebody to step forward and say 'we're going to do this' and get the neighbors to show up."

In any case, said Morocco, "don't leave your car unlocked, don't leave your house unsecured."

Breaking and enterings, or B&Es, happen anytime, he said. "The recent rash were more bold, daytime, but they happen all times of day and night."

The commissioner said about 85 to 90 percent of all crimes - domestic violence, child abuse, larceny - here and nationwide can be attributed to substance abuse.

Liz Shiner of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, said domestic violence has increased and that the county's rate for retraining orders is 40 percent above the statewide rate. The center would be willing to teach neighborhood crime watches how to deal with domestic violence, she said.

Morocco shared some interesting information about how Veremko allegedly plotted the numerous burglaries across the county and into Vermont over the past year.

According to Morocco, Veremko kept a notebook with a list of likely houses. He'd case the house and look up the phone numbers, call and track when they weren't home. "He'd do his homework," said Morocco. "He was probably the most sophisticated burlglar I've ever seen."

Veremko is being held on $250,000 bail after being arraigned on numerous charges relating to the break-ins.

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Veremko Arraigned, Held on $250K

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Here's a name familiar to many in Clarksburg and Stamford — Stefan Veremko.

Veremko was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday afternoon multiple charges related to numerous burglaries across the county between last June 1 and Nov. 19, 2009. The Pittsfield man is suspected in some of the break-ins and attempted break-ins in both Clarksburg and Stamford this past fall. He's also facing charges in the Bennington, Vt., area.

The 28-year-old had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf for 15 counts of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony; 14 counts of larceny in building; 11 counts of malicious destruction of property worth more than $250; 15 counts of receiving stolen property worth more than $250 and single counts each of possesion of ammunition without a firearms identification card, cruelty to animals and being a common and notorious thief (we'll have to look that one up).

Judge John A. Agostini ordered that he be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail. He also was ordered to stay away from the many victims, as well as to have no contact with them if he posts bail.

As most will remember, Veremko was arrested after an off-duty probation officer said he saw him fleeing a building in Lenox with a full pillow case. Veremko allegedly stopped and switched license plates but the officer noted the number and he was arrested at his Dartmouth Street residence.

The investigation was conducted by members of the Lenox, Pittsfield, Dalton, Lanesborough, Stockbridge, West Stockbridge, Williamstown and Clarksburg police departments and state troopers assigned to the Lee barracks.  

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Adams Crash Sends Three to NARH

Berkshire News Network

ADAMS, Mass. Three people were sent to the hospital Wednesday after a two-car collision on Howland Avenue

The crash occurred just after noon at the corner of Brown Street and Howland Avenue. A 2010 Honda Accord driven by Margaret Richardson of Cheshire and a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Robert Briggs collided while Richardson was attempting a left turn onto Brown Street.

Both drivers and a passenger in Richardson's car were transported to North Adams Regional Hospital for treatment of what were described as minor injuries.

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