Crime spike in Naples area has some concerned
Stars and Stripes May 21, 2008
NAPLES, Italy — The Navy has stopped showing the Naples neighborhood of Lago Patria to prospective renters, citing a recent increase in crime.
In the past month, there has been a spike in home invasions, car break-ins and theft in the coastal suburb, well above the norm for this area, officials say.
"We’re already where we were for the previous quarter — and we’re only halfway through this quarter," said Capt. Floyd Hehe, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity Naples.
The Navy wouldn’t provide any data but officials at the local carabinieri station in Lago Patria said about 25 incidents have been reported so far this year in the precinct, which also includes the neighboring town of Varcaturo.
About 200 houses or apartments are rented to American servicemembers, Defense Department employees and their families in Lago Patria, according to the Navy housing office.
Lago Patria is home to the Navy Receiver Site, a small telecommunications station staffed by approximately 30 people. The area also is the future site of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples.
After meeting with local police, Hehe said he was told they were "very understaffed," but that resources had been shifted to where police feel most of the crime is taking place.
"I also met with the provincial carabinieri colonel. He said he would increase resources for the Lago Patria station. But I don’t know how long that will take, and I don’t know if it’s a permanent change or temporary," Hehe said.
Foot and car patrols in the area have been increased, according to a carabinieri marshal assigned to the Lago Patria station.
"In the last 10 days since we increased patrols, there have been zero burglaries," said the marshal, who declined to be identified.
Local U.S. Air Force personnel said they were notified of the increase in crime through their chain of command last week. But several Navy residents hadn’t received any official information until Monday afternoon. A Navy spokesman said the delay was because the housing office did not have an updated e-mail database, and was working to correct the problem.
"There’s a huge American community here, but nobody’s told us anything about what’s been happening," Petty Officer 2nd Class Anjanette Rohde said Sunday. Rohde has lived in Lago Patria for more than two years.
"We only heard about this from friends. With all of the break-ins you hear about in other areas, I’m concerned that this area has been labeled unsafe," Rohde said.
The Navy can move qualified residents into available base housing upon request, Hehe said. "If people want to move from the economy to (base housing) we can do that."
But the Navy won’t pay the expenses of those seeking to move to another neighborhood. "I don’t have the money in the budget," Hehe said.