Burglaries focus of meeting with sheriff

NEWELL – A house burglary on Thursday, the latest in a string of break-ins, is adding urgency to a meeting that Newell residents have asked to have with new Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher on Tuesday.

“We got hit pretty well in that area,” Fletcher said. “We’re doing what we can to step up patrols at the moment.”

On Thursday alone, two houses were broken into and four cars were ransacked; all in the same area of Newell.

The home burglary on Grant Street happened early Thursday morning while a woman was home, but no one was injured, Fletcher said.

“The resident was sleeping when they came in and removed several items. It occurred right after another resident in the home had left the house,” he said. “They may have felt the house was empty.”

A vacant house nearby also was hit on Thursday, with burglars attempting to remove some copper wiring, Fletcher said.

In addition, four cars were ransacked, including one that was stolen and later recovered in East Liverpool, Fletcher said.

Sheriff’s investigators believe the burglaries may be related and the work of “the same group of people,” he said.

The break-ins have some Newell residents worried enough to call for a meeting with Fletcher in which to air their concerns. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Newell Lions Den on Washington Street.

Meeting organizer Beverly Enochs, president of the Newell Community Improvement Coalition, said the incidents are changing the way people think about their community.

“We never had this before in Newell. We never locked our doors. Now everyone locks their doors,” she said.

The string of residential burglaries dates back to the summer and has occurred mainly in the downtown area, Enochs said. On one street, about six houses were broken into, she said.

Enochs called Thursday’s incident “very unsettling. … This has just completely unnerved people.”

Enochs has been advertising the meeting on Facebook and encouraging the community to attend. One reason for the meeting, she said, is because Newell residents feel they have no recourse because they live in an unincorporated community with no local government.

In addition to the sheriff, residents will meet with Hancock County Commissioners Jeff Davis, Dan Greathouse and Mike Swartzmiller, mostly to ask them about their plans for Newell Memorial Field, which commissioners bought from the Hancock County Board of Education in December.

But the main topic for Fletcher, Enochs said, will be the home burglaries.

“I’m sure he’ll hear about that,” she said.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)