EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Wallets, purses, clothing, backpacks, jewelry, tools, keys, laptops, credit cards and Social Security cards.”

East Providence stolen goods suspect Nelson Wilson
Nelson Wilson (Photo: East Providence Police Department)

Those were just some of the roughly 200 suspected stolen items recovered this week by East Providence police from a motel room in Rumford, Chief Christopher Francesconi and other officials announced Wednesday.

Investigators also seized a .40 caliber handgun, about 15 grams of cocaine, and a vehicle stolen out of Pawtucket, according to Francesconi.

Police allege the suspect, 37-year-old Nelson Wilson, rummaged through a number of vehicles in the area and broke into at least two garages. He was arrested on several charges and is currently being held at the ACI as a parole violator.

“Many of these breaks could’ve been avoided”

Francesconi said on Sunday, Nov. 12, police got calls reporting thefts from two garages and nine vehicles in Rumford, as well as an abandoned vehicle in the area. Their investigation led them to the Rumford Motor Inn on Newport Avenue, where officers made contact with Wilson. The stolen items were in plain view, according to Francesconi, but police soon got a search warrant for Wilson’s room.

Wilson was charged with eight counts of tampering with a vehicle, two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of larceny, and single counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Further charges are anticipated as the investigation continues.

The chief warned people not to leave their vehicles unlocked or their valuables out in the open.

“Many of these vehicles were unlocked,” Francesconi said. “We can’t stress enough, locking your vehicles. Many of these breaks could’ve been avoided by vehicles being locked.”

Story continues below slideshow.

  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation
  • East Providence stolen goods investigation

Police are still working to connect many of the stolen items with the victims they were taken from. Detective Capt. James Nelson said they believe other vehicle breaks may have happened in Attleboro and Pawtucket, since the suspect was staying at an Attleboro motel earlier this month.

Anyone who believes their vehicle was broken into should call East Providence police at (401) 435-7600.

“Many, many incidents over the last few years”

Rumford Motor Inn, where the suspect was located, has been a thorn in the city’s side for years, according to Mayor Bob DaSilva. He said police are called there “way too often” for issues that threaten the safety and security of area residents, this latest arrest being a good example.

“These are not people who are from our community,” he said. “They are transient. They come in, they stay at this Rumford Motor Inn, and while they’re there, they’re committing crimes.”

DaSilva said he and police officials met with the owners on Wednesday, and the city will be working with them to transition the motel to another type of business.

Rumford Motor Inn in East Providence
Rumford Motor Inn in East Providence (Photo: Alexandra Leslie/WPRI-TV)

“I’m pretty much fed up with what’s happening with this facility,” DaSilva added. “I really want to thank the owners for coming in and meeting with us and being agreeable to work with us.”

The motel’s owners are coming up with a plan and will meet with city leaders again in three weeks, according to the mayor.

“We also know that we have other legal tools in our toolbox should we not be satisfied by the direction in which the owners are going in,” DaSilva noted. “We will use all of the tools available to bring an end to the scourge that this facility has brought on the surrounding community.”

“We also want to let the surrounding neighbors and the people in our community know that we are taking action against this motel to end this source of a major problem that we’ve been dealing with for a very, very long time,” he added.

Watch the full news conference below.