Mecimore said the police department is increasing patrols in targeted areas, including East Chapel Hill and Northwest Chapel Hill near I-40. They are also working to identify who is responsible for the thefts. Mecimore said he believes that some of these break-ins have been by the same person.
UNC student Peter Fox, 21, had his car broken into on Nov. 3 on West Stinson Street. The suspect entered through an unlocked door and went through the entire car looking for valuables.
“I forgot to lock my car one night and came out the next morning to find the contents of my backpack strewn across my car and my center console open,” Fox said. “It was quite frustrating because my favorite watch was in one of my backpack pockets and was stolen.”
The number of break-ins this month has significantly increased from the same time period in 2015 and also has significantly increased in recent months, Mecimore said.
The police department suggests keeping cars in well-lit areas and rolling up windows as preventative measures against theft.
On Thursday alone, the police department reported several break-ins and an attempted break-in. Two people had laptops stolen from their cars on McMasters Street and Providence Glen Drive.
Caroline Wagner, a UNC sophomore, said it makes her nervous that people are lurking around vehicles.
“We have security cameras around our sorority house so I feel pretty safe,” Wagner said. “I feel like other areas are more intriguing for criminals than our parking lot, but I am going to be more cautious to lock my car and remove my valuables now.”
Mecimore said if anyone witnesses suspicious activity they should call 911 immediately. The Chapel Hill Police Department asks anyone has information to call 919-968-2760 or leave tips anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.