MOOSIC – Moosic Police say despite stepped up patrols, this cluster of motels on Birney Avenue has a more serious crime problem than similar motels in larger communities.
We reviewed police records and found officers were called to two Moosic motels, 94 times in just the past two years.
Some of the men and women arrested in the past two years at motels, include people charged with rape and prostitution.
And in February 2013, There was an armed standoff with the Lackawanna County SWAT team.
Police say Shane Savage, robbed a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Scranton, then barricaded himself in his room at the Moosic Motor Inn for more than three hours before surrendering.
At the time, James Stanford was renting a room four doors down from savage.
“This is more like a slum place, where you flop, and get out,” said Standford, who adds he and his wife recently moved to the area from New York City to be near family in Scranton
He says the Moosic Motor Inn was only place they could find to rent.
“A lot of prostitution, a lot of drugs that I seen going on in there,” said Stanford.
Records show Moosic Police responded to 94 calls at the Moosic Motor Inn and the nearby Trotter’s Motel, and that’s only on motel property.
Moosic officer Jim Decker says he’s been called to complaints of drug activity in secluded areas behind the motels.
And he’s often arrested motel tenants at nearby businesses and homes.
“We call them our frequent flyers, our intoxicated residents who are always wandering around the roadway here,” said Decker.
Decker says crimes at and around the motels force Moosic police to call in, off-duty officers so the borough doesn`t go without protection.
Among the arrests, one man charged this man with rape, another woman with prostitution for trading sex for heroin, and another man with beating up a woman in front of their children.
At the Moosic Motor Inn, records show police charged a man with tossing a bottle at officers, another man with beating his girlfriend after another motel evicted him.
And during the last two years, a two men staying at the hotel died of heroin overdose.
“I shouldn`t even say it, but someone even referenced it as the Sherman Hills of Lackawanna County,” said Moosic Mayor Jim Segilia.
He says drug and violence problems plaguing Wilkes-Barre`s Sherman Hills housing project are similar to those his borough deals with from just two motels with fewer than 30 rooms each.
“We`re looking for something, some way for help, to deal with them,” adds Segilia, who is asking motel owners to keep detailed logs of who rents.
The owners of the two motels declined our request for interviews.
Police would like to see the owners adopt a policy like many chain motels, where renters must show a valid credit card and driver’s license.
Decker says such a policy can reduce the number of renters with outstanding arrest warrants and criminal records.
“You could say it`s a good hideout for people to conceal themselves because it`s easy to get,” said Decker.
Moosic officials want the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office to take action hoping that the same nuisance laws that have been used to shut down bars, can apply to these motels.
But DA Andy Jarbola says that may be difficult.
He can shut down bars by getting the state to take away a liquor license.
When it comes to a motel, there’s no equivalent action.