(UPDATED) Robberies unsettling Savin Hill; residents pack meeting, hear police promise more attention, offer safety tips


Above, this video released by Boston Police today warns the public of an increase in street robberies in several pockets of the city, including Savin Hill.

(Updated, Wed, Nov. 8)— A spate of robberies in Savin Hill prompted a higher-than-usual turnout for the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association meeting on Monday night with residents packing the Cristo Rey School’s library to hear from police officials.

Capt. Richard Sexton said that while crime is down in most categories in District C-11 this year, the number of robberies is up 15 percent. He blamed some of the crime on teen-agers stealing cell phones in an attempt to raise money for a video game system and said he was devoting more resources to the area, including bike patrols. Among other considerations, he urged residents to leave their porch lights on and not to text while walking.

After the meeting, elected officials discussed with Boston Police Superintendent Bill Evans the need for an increased police presence, according to state Sen. Jack Hart's office. "Superintendent Evans has indicated that he will authorize additional resources to assist Captain Sexton in addressing the recent crime spree," Hart's office said in a statement to community members on Wednesday. "These resources will include marked and unmarked patrol cars as well as additional overtime expenditures for personnel. It is our hope that these additional resources with alleviate the residents’ concerns over the recent uptick in crime in the Columbia-Savin Hill neighborhood."

At the Monday night meeting, residents said they were rattled by several incidents in the last few weeks, including a pre-Thanksgiving incident where a father with two small children was robbed by a pair of teen-agers in the parking lot of a Dorchester Avenue strip mall.

On Monday, the same night as the civic meeting, a woman was walking home late when a man wearing a baseball cap and gray hooded sweatshirt brandished a gun at her and demanded that she hand over her purse which he took and ran down Greenmount Street toward the Burger King on Dorchester Avenue, according to a police report.

And earlier Monday evening, according to police, a woman from the same area was approached by a young male, described as black and wearing a black hooded sweater, who held a firearm that he pointed at her chest. He demanded her purse before running into the yards of houses along the street.

This Tuesday, the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Savin Hill reported an attempted robbery. A man in his twenties approached the register with a Pepsi bottle and demanded money, the police report noted. The cashier said she did not have money in the drawer and attempted to call the police, prompting the would-be robber to rush out. The suspect was described as black, wearing a black baseball cap with a gold sticker on the brim, a black hoodie, and light jeans.

Some residents vigorously voiced their frustration with the crime situation. Joe Baker got into a loud back-and-forth with Lt. Commander William Fleming of the MBTA Transit Police who noted that there have been 254 incidents over the last year at the JFK/UMass MBTA station, with fare-evasions making up the vast majority of those reports.

“If it was a night club, it would have been shut down,” Baker said, demanding more of a police presence. “We’re under siege.”

Fleming noted that officers patrol the station at night and mentioned the installation of the “Sky Tower” – a camera mounted on a platform that can lift itself 30 feet in the area.

“We need more,” Baker shot back.

The back-and-forth, which dominated the beginning of the lengthy meeting, eventually led to the crowd asking Baker to tamp down his outbursts.

“I promise you we’ll hit them harder,” Fleming said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated at 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 8 to reflect new developments. The statement from state Sen. Jack Hart's office was added.