Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

North Kenwood man claims his crime complaints are fueling retribution

Ross Pavio of the North Kenwood neighborhood claims that someone is poisoning plants in his front yard, possibly in retaliation for him calling police about drug dealing and prostitution in the area.


Ross Pavio of the North Kenwood neighborhood claims that someone is poisoning plants in his front yard, possibly in retaliation for him calling police about drug dealing and prostitution in the area.

At a house across the street from where Ross Pavio lives, a sign pinned to a scarecrow says, "No hookers or crack heads, please!"

Pavio, 56, said that's the message he has been trying to get across in his North Kenwood neighborhood since moving in four years ago, but his efforts backfired.

In the past few months, Pavio said, a fire has been set in his back yard, a video camera above his garage tampered with, and his beloved plants and lawn ruined with chemicals. Last week, he called St. Petersburg police to his home on two consecutive days to investigate the vandalism.

Police classified an earlier incident in July as criminal mischief. The officer dispatched to Pavio's house said he saw two brown patches close to the road.

"He had multiple trees and bushes with some leaves that were beginning to turn yellow and brown. I could find no evidence that they had been sprayed with herbicide, however,'' the police officer said in his report.

According to Pavio, though, his once verdant yard is ruined, lush ferns faded and thinning, and hibiscus, bromeliad, Mexican sunflower and other plants disfigured with brown leaves.

He blames his problems on being outspoken. When prostitutes started strolling down his street and a steady stream of drug buyers made their way to the doors of two neighbors, he called police. He objected to loud rap and heavy metal music, partying into the wee hours and dog walkers who refused to pick up after their pets. He also approached kids who dropped fast food wrappers and containers on his street.

"I have been very, very verbal,'' said Pavio, who owns a cleaning business. "I've asked my neighbors, please keep your music down. If the pictures on my walls are rattling and my windows are rattling, it's too loud. As far as I can tell, I'm the only neighbor who has said this has to stop. Everybody else looks the other way."

Scorched lawns and ruined plants might not get much sympathy from other residents who have been victims of the city's recent crime wave. According to recent statistics, reported crime in St. Petersburg rose 9 percent, compared with the first six months of 2008. Specifically, property crimes such as auto theft, burglaries and larcenies climbed 10 percent.

Cass Rael, who lives about a block from Pavio in the North Kenwood neighborhood, said Pavio could have made himself a target for reprisals. He, too, talks to kids about dropping litter on the streets, but when they ignore him, Rael said, he picks up their trash. Additionally, he said, his property is armed with video cameras and motion detectors.

"I'm pretty proactive in trying to prevent any type of crime,'' he said. "There is another way to handle it, and that's by working with your neighborhood association and your crime watch.''

"Crime is a concern with all of our neighborhoods,'' said Rebecca Saylor, a North Kenwood Neighborhood Association board member. "I know it's been a hot topic at the CONA [Council of Neighborhood Associations] meetings, and it's been brought up at our meetings, probably every month this year.''

Pavio, who said he doesn't blame the police for his troubles, isn't interested in joining any groups. After spending about $55,000 to renovate his two-bedroom, two-bath house and cultivate its barren yard, he has had enough.

"I came here with this wonderful idea that I was going to be coming into this up-and-coming neighborhood,'' he said.

"I had great hope. I was not even worried about investing the money. I thought it was worth it.''

Times Researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

North Kenwood man claims his crime complaints are fueling retribution 08/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  2. Rays Kevin Cash: "We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence"


    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to turn it around,'' Cash said. "You can only delay it for so long and …

  3. Should kindergartners be encouraged to conform to peer pressure? One Pasco school suggests so


    A Pasco County elementary school came under fire on social media Thursday for its new behavior expectation charts that suggest conforming to peer pressure is positive, and that running in school is anarchy.

    Deer Park Elementary School has posted this chart of student expectations. Some parents have complained about its terms, such as the suggestion that conforming to peer pressure is positive.
  4. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba


    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  5. Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue


    Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.