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Residents Express Concerns Over Recent Home Invasions in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — People in Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood are fighting to keep their community safe.

Tonight homeowners shared their fears and concerns at First Park Memorial Baptist Church on Garfield Street after several recent violent home invasions in the area.

We spoke with residents who say they want the break-ins to stop and the criminals to stay behind bars.

A former reverend of the church was attacked in his home just around the corner in March.

Tonight residents asked the Mayor, police and the DA’s office what is being done to prevent these problems.

Two home invasions around midnight on March 17 on Garfield Street bring back frightening memories for Joan Rice.

“I live in fear all the time,” she says.

Last summer the front door of her home one street over on Fairfield Street was kicked in.

Rice lost priceless mementos that bring back memories of a lifetime.  Things like her high school class ring.  Her piece of mind was also stolen.

“I locked the front door the other day when I was just carrying something to my garage,” she explains.

Rice and her neighbors are coming together to find the answers of how to keep their community safe and to find out what the city is doing to help them.

Dick Leopold also a resident on Fairfield Street has been robbed 3 times over the last 30 years.  He wants to know what’s being done about repeat offenders.

“We see the same kind of individuals committing the same crimes over and over again and judicial system seems to be broke,” says Leopold.

Mayor Sarno fielded questions during tonight’s neighborhood watch meeting.

He says they’ll be working within their budget to use extra details along with collaborating with State Police and the District Attorney’s Office.  Sarno is also pushing for 25 new police officers.

“We are gonna be ever vigilant we’re not gonna give up.  We are gonna continue to pound away,” he says.

And so will the people who call Forest Park their home.

Leopold told ABC40, “We will continue to be proactive and take whatever action is necessary to protective and take whatever actions is necessary to protect our property our homes our family.”

We spoke with the wife of the former Rev. Frank Knight tonight at the meeting.  She did not want to go on camera but says her husband is healing.

She is also thankful her fellow neighbors are coming together to help them out and make sure the community is safe.

Springfield police did arrest Roberto Hill Jr. for the March 17 home invasions.

He is being held without the right to bail.

Several other break-ins in the area are still under investigation.

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