Businesses and homes along James Street in Syracuse have been plagued in recent weeks by a number of break-ins and burglaries, which some neighbors feel are connected to an apartment building undergoing foreclosure.
Cars in parking lot of the CNY Central studios at 1030 James Street have been hit four times in the past month. On Thursday morning, someone smashed the window of employee Mary Jo Clavijo's car and stole a DVD player. Surveillance cameras caught the break-in on video, which has been turned over to Syracuse Police. Clavijo told Jim Kenyon, "to think somebody was breaking into your car while you were working, it's very scary."
Police are investigating similar incidents throughout the area, but some people in Eastwood think they know the source of the problem. Ray, who asked us not to reveal his last name, points to a four story apartment building at the corner of James Street and Rigi Avenue, the Royal Windsor apartments. "At night time they come in here. They're in our neighborhood, they break into our cars, they're breaking into our houses, Anything that's not nailed down they take."
Ray and a resident of the building who asked not to be identified, escorted Kenyon inside the building which is two doors away from Blessed Sacrament Church. They pointed out that only five or six people still live in the building, which has 36 apartments. They showed us a number of apartments with doors that had been smashed open and evidence that people were illegally staying there. There's also gang-related graffiti on the walls.
"They're coming in, they're burglarizing the neighborhood, they're staying in these apartments and they leave in the morning and they're terrorizing the neighborhood." Ray said.
Sutton Real Estate president Lou Fournier says he and Syracuse officials are well aware of the problem. Fournier says the apartment building is undergoing foreclosure and Sutton was appointed as receiver for the property on September 7th. Fournier says he immediately spent $3,000 boarding up and securing the lower floors to prevent people from breaking in, but he says it's "almost impossible to keep it secure." Fournier says "one of my guys is in there everyday" dealing with a forced entry.
Fournier says he's "working closely" with the Syracuse Police, Fire Department and Codes Enforcement regarding the complaints from neighbors. Fournier said, "my recommendation is to finish it" meaning re-locate the remaining tenants and completely shut down the building.