Boise & Garden City

While groups work to help displaced Arbor Crossing tenants, burglars prey on them

The fire on West Stoker made the Arbor Crossing apartments unlivable.
The fire on West Stoker made the Arbor Crossing apartments unlivable.

Three of the apartments evacuated at the fire-ravaged West Boise complex have been hit by burglars, Boise police reported late Tuesday afternoon.

One burglary was reported Monday, with items stolen including a safe and various gold and silver jewelry items. Two more burglaries were reported Tuesday; in both instances, televisions and miscellaneous items were taken, police said in a news release.

In two of the cases the intruder broke the front door lock to gain entry, police said. All three crimes are under investigation, and police have not said whether they believe the same person or people committed all three. Police urged people to safeguard their property by installing quality locks on doors and windows, photographing valuables and engraving items with identifying information.

The apartment building on the 5100 block of West Stoker Lane went up in flames Dec. 10, killing one third-floor tenant and injuring five people. Although some of the units are still intact, critical electrical equipment was destroyed, making the entire complex unsuitable for residence and displacing 24 families. The cause of the fire is still unknown, Boise Fire Department spokesperson Tammy Barry said Tuesday.

Up to eight families displaced by the Arbor Crossing fire will have free places to stay while they look for permanent homes.

The International Rescue Committee teamed up with Airbnb, the web-based platform that lets people turn their homes into short-term rental properties, to provide housing for about a month. Families had been set up at the Residence Inn Boise, but moved into temporary Airbnb homes Tuesday, according to an IRC press release.

“The IRC and our partner organizations, including the Red Cross, the city of Boise and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are working around the clock to ensure that our refugee families are taken care of,” said Julianne Donnelly Tzul, executive director for Boise’s IRC.

The IRC helps people who are affected by humanitarian crises and disasters around the world. The Boise office also assists in refugee resettlement.

“This is an unfortunate tragedy, and our thoughts are with all of the families affected by the fire, especially those whose loved ones were lost or injured as a result,” Donnelly Tzul said in the release. “It’s truly unimaginable to be so vulnerable again, especially in the current bitter cold snap.”

Roger Doughty, ecclesiastical leader for the LDS Boise stake, explained why he and his community wanted to help.

“There were six or eight families that did not have homes. I met all of them,” Doughty said. “If they’d been in their own country they would be situated like you and I. They are smart, bright, capable and now homeless through no fault of their own. The need and the gratitude from them was palpable.”

Airbnb spokesperson Nick Shapiro echoed that support.

“These brave refugees have already experienced far too much hardship in their lives. It’s an honor to do what we can to help give them — and all of those displaced by this devastating fire — safe shelter and some peace of mind,” he said.

Erin Fenner: 208-377-6207, @erinfenner