A home invasion is the latest in a string of crimes in Hazleton.
Officers said three people forced their way into a home Thursday night, held a woman at gunpoint and took money.
Hazleton police said over the past three months there have been 15 robberies in the city. That averages out to at least one a week.
The latest happened at a home on Garfield Street.
“Thank God we are alive. You can always replace things but you can’t replace yourself, your life,” said robbery victim Linda Radell.
She was at home with her daughter when three men wearing masks entered. One of the men was holding a gun.
“Asked my Mary where her money is. Where is your money? She said, ‘What money?’ She pushed that gun away from them. He held it to her head, she thought it was a joke, somebody playing a prank on us or something,” Radell recounted. “The other guy ran into the kitchen and grabbed my mouth and told me to be quiet and threw me to the floor. I thought he was going to crack my neck.”
Radell said the family had just received its income tax refund check and cashed it. The bandits’ take was $300. Police have several leads.
The victims said several hours before the armed robbery a satellite TV crew was in the house working on the television.
“Why would they pick this house? There are other homes here. They knew what they were doing, coming for. That’s why I think it was those guys. If it wasn’t them it could have been their friends too,” Radell said.
Although she and her family escaped major injuries or worse, the robbery has taken an emotional toll.
“I couldn’t sleep all night. All I heard were noises. It’s in your head, you know. Trying to keep busy, I am going to straighten up the house. I am just shook up a little bit. It never happened to me before,” Radell added.
Hazleton police said they have some leads in some of the city’s recent robberies.
“Our detectives are taking those (to) the next step and bringing people in for interviews and trying to get more information and try closing out these cases,” said Hazleton Police Corporal John Leonard.
“Now we’re at a stage where it’s increasing a little bit more and that’s because probably the economy and so they’re looking for an easy way to get it and that’s through robbery,” said Mayor Joseph Yanuzzi.
The rise in robberies has some crime watch members concerned.
“You need to be vigilant. You need to be safe. You need to secure your home and lock your doors and lock your cars and be very careful who you let in,” said Betty Probert of Laurel Street Crime Watch.