Updated 3:55 p.m. March 3 with information about a fifth break-in.
In the last week, five student homes have been broken into all under similar circumstances. Police are not certain the same person is responsible in each incident. He was described in the first incidents as a “6-foot-tall black male, with a medium build and very short hair.” Here’s what you need to know about the break-ins and how to protect yourself:
What resources are available for help?
- Chapel Hill police: (919) 968-2760
- Crimestoppers: (919) 942-7515
- Rape Crisis Center: 1-866-935-4783
- UNC Department of Public Safety: (919) 962-8100
Where were the break-ins?
The first incident was along the 300 block of Pritchard Avenue, followed within the hour by another break-in one block over near the 300 block of Church Street. Sunday, students in Mill Creek Apartment buildings B and E reported similar incidents. The fifth reported incident happened Friday at a Mill Creek Apartment but was not reported until Wednesday.
What happened in each break-in?
- In the Pritchard Avenue incident, two women “were awoken when they saw a strange man in their bedrooms waving a cell phone in front of their face,” Chapel Hill police Lt. Kevin Gunter said. This happened sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Friday. When the women screamed, the man left. Police say the door was unlocked.
- In the Church Street incident, the man entered the home sometime between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Friday. The female student woke when she felt the man touching her leg. The woman said she didn’t scream but said “Oh my God” and the man calmly walked out. The girls in the house say their door was locked, but a spare key that was hidden outside is now missing.
- In the Mill Creek B building incident, a woman woke when she noticed someone tapping her leg around 6:30 a.m. Sunday. She sat up but did not say anything, and the man left. Her door was unlocked.
- In the Mill Creek E building incident, the man entered through an unlocked door around 7:15 a.m. Sunday. The woman woke up after she realized the man’s hand was under her covers, touching her leg. She grabbed a knife and the intruder ran. She chased him further when she saw the man looking at her through her window.
- In the Friday Mill Creek incident, the victim was male and nothing was reported stolen. The man entered the apartment around 5:30 a.m.
What do all the break-ins have in common?
- Student victims’ descriptions of the intruder vary slightly, police say, but all have described a black male. Some of the Friday victims described him as around 6 foot tall, with very short hair and some facial hair, while another reported he was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt. A Sunday victim described him as college-aged.
- In all instances, police say the man entered the homes through unlocked doors. In at least one incident, the student occupants say their door was locked but that a hidden key was placed outside the residence. In another incident, the students say they are typically careful about locking their door but that guests left it unlocked that night.
- All of the incidents occurred between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
- In three of the incidents, students delayed in reporting the break-ins, thinking it was a joke or that the man had accidentally walked into the wrong apartment.
How can you protect yourself?
The Family Violence Prevention Center offers these tips:
- Lock your doors at night and whenever you leave the home.
- Be careful who you give spare keys to. Make sure you trust them.
- Always be aware of where your keys are.
- Trust your instinct.
If your home is broken into (under circumstances fitting this or any other), call 911 immediately. It’s important that incidents are reported promptly.
Where can I find more information about the break-ins?
- Police looking for male intruder, The Daily Tar Heel, Feb. 25
- Two more break-ins reported, The Daily Tar Heel, March 1
- Intruder finds more Chapel Hill doors unlocked, WRAL, March 1
- Two more leg rubbing intruder cases reported, ABC 11, March 1
- UNC students report unidentified man waking them up, NBC 17, March 1
- Male victim reports break-in, The Daily Tar Heel, March 3
City Editor Tori Stilwell contributed reporting.
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