Rick Petersen addresses the Clinton City Council

Landlord Rick Petersen addresses the Clinton City Council on Tuesday. A fire at Petersen’s rental property on Fourth Avenue South sparked public comments from residents concerning unchecked crime in their neighborhood.

CLINTON — Several residents from the Fourth Avenue South neighborhood where a fire damaged a home last week complained to the Clinton City Council on Tuesday night about the lack of action against crime in their neighborhood.

“Our neighborhood has always looked out [for] each other,” said Shai Lemke, but residents are frustrated at the number of calls they make to Clinton police that result in no decrease in crime in the neighborhood.

“Criminals are smarter,” Lemke said during Tuesday’s council meeting. They are getting away with crimes. People break in to abandoned homes on the block, and residents are told by police that nothing can be done because it’s private property, Lemke said.

“You will be hearing from us,” Lemke said. “This has to be fixed.”

Theresa Soesbe lives next door to the house firefighters were called to last week, she said. “I’ve been calling neighborhood services,” said Soesbe, but she sees no results. “[People] keep breaking back in to the apartments they are evicted from,” Soesbe told the council. Landlords have to clean up the mess.

According to Soesbe, police were called to the house at 445 Fourth Ave. South on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4. The house caught fire Feb. 5. One resident was rescued from the second floor and transported to MercyOne.

Soesbe doesn’t understand why the neighborhood has to put up with the criminal activity, she told council members. “There’s absolutely no consequences for their actions.”

I understand that they are homeless [and] hungry,” Soesbe said, but the crimes should be addressed.

Rick Petersen owns the property at 445 Fourth Ave. South. He’s been a landlord for more than 30 years, he told the council, and the town’s drug problem is wreaking havoc in Clinton.

Petersen read a detailed statement of his interaction with the city and the police concerning crimes against his property, detailing also his frustration with the lack of results.

City Administrator Matt Brooke assured residents that the city will address the complaints. “We will work through this with you all.”

“This problem is deep,” Brooke said.

City Attorney Patrick O’Connell explained that council members were silent on the issue during public comments Tuesday because the issue was not an agenda item and therefore could not be discussed by the council during the meeting.