Reports growing of downtown Smithfield incidents

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Police advise residents to lock their cars


By Matt Leonard

Staff Writer

Multiple residents in downtown Smithfield have experienced car burglaries recently, while one worries about losing her apartment after having her rent money stolen.

Sierra Johnson left her purse in the car when she took her children into their Cedar Street apartment last month. When she returned to get the groceries, her purse was laying by the back tire of the car. Missing from the purse: $600 in rent money, credit cards and her Social Security card.

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Johnson has created a GoFundMe page to raise money for her rent and childcare, and there is less than a week left on her campaign.                          {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“I’m asking for help for not only me but for my kids as well,” her GoFundMe reads. “It’s already a struggle out here for all single mothers that work everyday to provide a good stable home for their kids.”

Johnson and her kids recently moved into the Cedar Street apartment.

“We thought it would be better here,” she said of living in the historic district.

If Johnson can’t pay her rent by June 13 she’s worried she could be evicted along with her three children, she said.

Eric Stevenson found Johnson’s wallet and some of its contents on the corner of Cedar Street and Underwood Lane.

Stevenson and his fiancé Allison Boris live on Underwood Lane in downtown Smithfield. Their home has eight security cameras to protect their lawn care business vehicles and equipment.

On one occasion, these cameras caught a group trying to break into the couple’s truck; a different recording picked up a conversation about finding money to buy marijuana.

“We left Hampton to get away from that crap,” Boris said.

The couple will be adding a security camera to their truck and gave the footage they have to the Smithfield Police.

Dick Price didn’t need a camera to catch a glimpse of a car break-in on South Church Street last month. It was dusk when Price witnessed the burglary from his apartment window.

“I heard a big banging and saw a guy hitting the center post on the car with a brick,” he said.

Eventually, the window shattered and the suspect grabbed a purse from inside. Prince says he briefly made eye contact with the individual before they made a run for it.

When the police arrived, the owner of the car filed a report. Prince said he’s not sure who the owner is, but said they had just been eating at Smithfield Station before the incident.

Mike Waters has lived on Grace Street in Smithfield’s Historic District for about seven years. Recently, his family’s cars have been broken into on multiple occasions.

“The first one was entered in the middle of the day while I was in the back yard working,” Waters said.

Smithfield Police Sgt. Chris Meier said most of the break-ins occur when car doors aren’t locked.

“They always say ‘well, this is Smithfield, I didn’t think I needed to lock my doors,’” Meier said.

Every summer, there is an uptick in car burglaries, especially when school lets out, he said. The people who do it are juveniles who walk around pulling car handles, if it doesn’t open they usually move on to the next one, he said.

Meier said taking all valuables out of the car, including wallets, purses, money and firearms, is another important step. Two firearms have been taken in the most recent string of break-ins. Parking in well-lit areas can also be a deterrent, he said.

Vicky Adams, Prince’s neighbor, said she would change her routine if she knew these incidents were occurring.

“People might change their daily routine if they knew there were problems that had arisen,” Adams said.

To give to Sierra Johnson’s GoFundMe, visit

The Smithfield Times Managing Editor Diana McFarland contributed to this story.  {/mprestriction}