Police arrest suspect in Niles home invasion involving elderly victim

Local News

Police said the man knocked on the door using a ruse of looking for signatures for a petition

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Maple Street in Niles is described as a relatively quiet street, except for a few speeders, but that all changed Friday morning when a man attempted to rob an 87-year-old woman after forcing himself into her home and knocking her down.

The man knocked on the woman’s door around 8:10 a.m. Ring video from the woman’s home shows him asking her to sign a petition regarding coronavirus, and shortly after, forcing his way into her home, where police say he tried to rob her.

Police confirmed Friday afternoon that they took a suspect into custody, 56-year-old Leonard Powell, Jr., of Niles. He is charged with aggravated burglary. Additional charges may be pending.

Captain John Marshall with the Niles Police Department said nothing appeared to have been taken, and this is not something that has happened here recently.

He said the victim has some minor injuries after being knocked down by the man.

“Just be very careful. He did come to the door suggesting that he was circulating a petition or something of that nature, something to do with coronavirus, and it was enough to get somebody to actually come to the door,” said Captain Marshall. “If you see somebody at the door and you don’t know who they are, don’t answer that door. If you really feel concerned, call the police.

Anyone with information on the crime is encouraged to call the Niles Police Department at (330) 652-9944. Police said tipsters can remain anonymous if they’d like.

Miss Gem, who has lived on the street for three years, said the neighborhood is generally quiet, though she has heard of some crime nearby and has issues with drivers speeding in the area

She said she has had limited reaction with the victim but would see her walking her dog when she’s on the porch drinking coffee.

“I know I’ve seen her over at the library doing community service, it looked like, pulling up weeds and planting flowers,” said Miss Gem.

She said she is angry by what happened.

“You shouldn’t be bothering people,” she said. “Get your own stuff, and that’s just how I feel about it, and she’s kind, from what I can tell. Her children come check on her. If anybody is checking on her, then they had to be worth something as a parent.”

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