ST. PETERSBURG — A recent string of home burglaries that has had the Old Southeast on edge has ended with the arrest of a longtime resident of the neighborhood. St. Petersburg police Officer Richard Johnston — the neighborhood's community police officer — said most of the burglaries were cleared by the arrest of Heather Nugent, 34. Nugent, whom Johnston said had no prior criminal history, faces multiple charges of burglary and dealing in stolen property.
The historic waterfront neighborhood usually enjoys a low incidence of crime compared to other areas of the city, according to the police. City Council member Karl Nurse, who was among the victims of the daytime break-ins, is pragmatic about the episode.
"We've had a good number of arrests, so if we lock our things, take care of our stuff and keep our eyes open, we should go back to being the city's most relaxed neighborhood," Nurse said. Most of the 16 reported break-ins in the past eight weeks have been attributed to Nugent.
Nugent had a system that involved riding around the neighborhood during the day on her 8-year-old daughter's pink bike, wearing a backpack with a crowbar tucked inside, Johnston said. Nugent went from house to house knocking on doors and forcibly entering homes when no one answered. She even crawled through a dog door in one home, Johnston said.
"We see her all the time, we walk by her house every day, we wave to her," said resident Claire Eichler at a recent meeting of the neighborhood that was called to discuss the burglaries.
"She did some things she shouldn't have, she made some mistakes, and there are consequences for that," Johnston said. "Hopefully, we've quelled this issue and can move on."