ASHTABULA — City officials are reaching out to residents to help bust drug houses after a Hamlin Drive resident complained to City Council about a rental house on his street.
“We are a neighborhood of old families,” said resident Timothy Bell. “Last summer, there was a lot of traffic, heroin sales, at a rental house and the owner won’t do anything.”
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said police have raided the house twice since May.
“Most recently about three weeks ago,” he said.
Bell said despite the police work, the problem persists.
Council President John Roskovics said he emphasizes and appreciates what Bell is experiencing.
“The more light we shed on this issue, the better,” he said. “The new task force is doing great work ... hopefully, word will continue to spread that drug activity is not wanted and will not be tolerated in our town.”
Pamphlets, designed by City Manager Jim Timonere to help residents spot, document and report crime and drug houses, are available at the Municipal Building.
Stell said the pamphlets are very informative and his department does follow up on all tips — even anonymous ones.
Ward 5 Councilperson Jane Haines suggested the pamphlets earlier this year after talking with West 58th Street residents, who are concerned about the city’s drug problem.
“I understand Mr. Bell’s situation,” she said.
The pamphlet provides an anatomy of a drug house, as well as what residents should note before calling police. It also gives citizens proper phone numbers for emergencies, drug activity, prostitution activity, crimes in progress, housing code violations and an anonymous tip line.
Among the signs of a potential drug house:
• Frequent visits by non-residents at all hours
• Numerous visitors staying for brief periods
• Visitors bringing valuables and leaving empty handed
• Visitors waiting in the car or residents going out to visitors’ cars
• Lookouts outside the residence
• Shades or blinds always closed
• Video cameras on exterior of residence
The pamphlet encourages neighbors to maintain a log of activity at the house and provide police the home’s address and descriptions of people and vehicles visiting the residence, including license plate information.
“Drug dealers like neighborhoods that say, ‘It can’t happen here,’” according to the pamphlet. “If they establish a drug house in a neighborhood where neighbors don’t care, business will thrive.”