BEVERLY — The Centerville house where armed home invaders struck last week has been the scene of underage drinking parties, illegal drug distribution and numerous neighbor complaints, according to a letter that police Chief Mark Ray sent the owner last summer.
"The Beverly Police Department has logged ... 62 police entries related to 1 Brandt Circle," Ray wrote on Aug. 6, 2009. "During the past 12 months, police have conducted 44 directed patrols at that location in response to multiple neighbor complaints of house parties, erratic motor vehicle operation, disturbances and animal complaints. ..."
After police wrote to owner Thomas Sullivan of Potomac, Md., and stepped up their patrols in the neighborhood, calls decreased at 1 Brandt Circle, a home assessed at $585,000 on a dead-end street.
But last Monday night, police were back. This time, two men with guns had gone in through a back door demanding money. Wearing handkerchiefs over their faces and blue rubber gloves, the men instead made off with cell phones, a wallet, a backpack and a laptop computer. Police have not caught them.
"I think this has brought the situation to a whole new level," Ward 6 Councilor Judith Cronin said.
Noise and disorderly conduct seemed mild compared to an armed home invasion, she said.
"If I were to canvass the neighborhood, there's a high level of concern and high level of frustration with the situation continuing," Cronin said. "It's going to require a new way of looking at the situation so it can be fixed."
Neighbors interviewed last week refused to comment on the record. However, Ray's letter, which quotes 15 complaints neighbors have made to police, made it clear that residents see 1 Brandt Circle as a problem.
"There are parties one to three nights per week with loud talking, yelling, honking car horns, setting off car alarms, extremely loud playing of car radios, vomiting in the street and peeling out in their cars. The kids leave at 12:30 or 1:30, or later," one resident reported in the letter.
Police went to the home on Oct. 24, 2008, to break up an underage drinking party, according to the letter. They arrived to find an 18-year-old urinating on the sidewalk and in possession of a 30-pack of beer.
"Kathleen Sullivan (who lives there), the only adult present, had assured officers at the door it was a birthday party, and alcohol was not allowed in the home," Ray wrote. "Officers subsequently found 30 underage youths in possession of 141 cans of beer, bottles of liquor and 21 bags of marijuana. Arrests, warrants and summonses resulted."
Sullivan, whom police identified as the owner's sister, declined to comment and referred questions to her son, Derek, who also did not comment.
Ray sent the letter to Thomas Sullivan after receiving numerous complaints from neighbors, said Officer April Clarizia, the department's public information officer.
One complaint describes a pit bull running loose. Others describe teenagers making noise late at night. "One of the scariest moments I remember," one neighbor wrote, "occurred a couple years ago at 3:30 a.m. The son was screaming ... at his girlfriend who was half-dressed in only a bra and shorts. ... She was running through the neighborhood scared for her safety."
After the letter went out, Clarizia said, police met with neighbors and, separately, with Kathleen Sullivan, outlining plans to check on the house multiple times each night.
"Since the letter and the directed patrol, we haven't had as many calls to that house or complaints by neighbors," Clarizia said.
According to police, from April 2009 through Friday, there have been 21 calls to the house. (Clarizia said an earlier figure she gave of six calls in the past year was incorrect.)
Clarizia said neighbors and residents in general should not be worried.
"I know it is dramatic, and it can be very unnerving for the neighbors," she said. "The Police Department does believe it is an isolated incident."
In the meantime, police have stepped up patrols around Brandt Circle, she said. The patrols are part of officers' regular duties and do not take them away from other areas of the city, she said.
Clarizia said the chief is weighing other options, including meeting again with residents of both the house and their neighbors.
"We just want to make sure we're still on the right track and keeping everybody safe," she said.
Clarizia stressed that the department has taken the incidents seriously.
"Safety is the top priority of the department," she said.