YPD’s new East Rock unit arrests burglar

A Yale Police Department officer arrested Bristol, Conn. resident Rene Colon, on Tuesday at a parking lot near Whitney and Humphrey streets on charges of burglary, larceny, trespassing and interfering with a police officer, according to a department release.

The arrest comes just four days after YPD Chief James Perrotti announced heightened police presence in the East Rock neighborhood and six days after three graduate students were reportedly robbed in broad daylight at the same intersection. YPD officials said that this particular arrest was made possible by increased surveillance in the area in response to a spike in car break-ins.

University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith lauded the efforts of the YPD’s community impact unit in an interview Wednesday evening. Perrotti announced the deployment of the unit in East Rock, which consists of four officers and a supervisor, this past Sunday.

“Part of the effectiveness of that unit is that we can deploy it to difficult spots at a moment’s notice,” Highsmith said. “The bad guys don’t know where we are at any given time because, well, we’re everywhere.”

The arrest also comes on the heels of recently publicized complaints by graduate students living in East Rock. In fact, David Streever, a local resident, created a civilian block watch just three weeks ago to combat these concerns.

Safety concerns peaked in late August — prime move-in time for students living in the area — when a graduate student was shot in the hand near the corner of Edwards and Nicoll streets. Most recently, last Friday, three graduate students were victims of an armed robbery in the middle of the afternoon on Science Hill.

But on Sunday, according to a statement from city spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga, the New Haven Police Department arrested an individual who, police claim, is responsible for not only Friday’s robbery but several recent East Rock robberies, as well.

When asked last week what the most prevalent crime in the neighborhood was, several graduate students living in East Rock said it was, without a doubt, motor vehicle break-ins. In an interview with the News last week, Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar characterized the majority of crimes in East Rock as “crimes of opportunity” — crimes that occur when property is left unguarded in such a way that it invites deviant behavior.

YPD spokesman Lt. Steven Woznyk did not respond requests for comment on Wednesday evening, but communicated the following arrest details by e-mail:

YPD Officer Tom Nguyen was “conducting surveillance” near University parking lot 22, which is at the corner of Whitney and Humphrey streets. Nguyen had been assigned to the area in response to a spike in car break-ins nearby.

Nguyen watched as Colon drove a stolen vehicle, got out, broke into another parked vehicle and stole items inside. Nguyen confronted Colon, who immediately raced away across nearby Whitney Avenue. Colon was apprehended soon afterward.

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