The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Northside area responds to more break-ins

Residents have reported a 42 percent increase in incidents.

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When junior Kaylon Kirk couldn’t find her backpack in her room, she thought she may have left it in her car.

But when she saw books scattered across the floor and noticed a camera and Xbox were missing, she knew the possessions had been stolen.

Northside Break-ins:
26
reported burglaries/ breaking and entering from January to August 2010
37
reported burglaries/ breaking and entering from January to August 2011
42 percent
increase in reported burgularies/breaking and entering from last year
12
reported burglaries/breaking and entering in August 2011 alone

Chapel Hill police say Kirk, who lives in the Northside neighborhood, isn’t alone.

Chapel Hill police records show a 42 percent increase in Northside-area break-ins from last year during the same January-to-August period.

Residents have reported 12 break-ins in the neighborhood during the past month, compared to one in August 2010.

Lt. Kevin Gunter, spokesman for the police department, said end-of-summer spikes in break-ins aren’t uncommon.

“During the summer months, leading up to the fall semester, we typically notice break-ins to rental property homes that students are leaving and coming back to,” he said. “We’ve made a couple of arrests related to property thefts in that area and our investigative unit is working on others.”

Lt. Jabe Hunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department said students aren’t the only ones targeted.

“Certainly it happens in areas of the community where people are out, (thieves) are looking for anything from electronics to spare change.”

Hunter said it’s important for residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activity not only around their own homes, but also their neighbors’.

“These guys are looking to get in and get out quickly, they’re looking to go unseen. We stress that people need to call the authorities if they see something suspicious so we can get these guys off the street.”

Kirk, who lives on N. Columbia Street, said she only left the house for about 10 minutes to run an errand, but when she returned she discovered she was missing nearly $5,000 worth of items. A front window was left unlocked, she said.

“They emptied out my backpack, stuffed all the stuff they wanted in it and got away,” she said.

Kirk said she reported the incident to Chapel Hill police, but that there hasn’t been an arrest in the case yet. She said the incident has heightened her awareness of the area.

“I personally don’t really feel that safe. I’m on the lookout now for suspicious characters and people walking slowly by the house,” she said. “I even had the police come and check the house another time when I was alone.”

Northside resident Martrina Morrow, who hasn’t experienced any recent break-ins, said she thinks that watchful neighbors are what keeps a community safe.

“If you live in a community, you need to act like you’re part of that community and help each other out,” she said.

To address the increased robberies, the Northside community has partnered with Chapel Hill-Carrboro-UNC Crime Stoppers to encourage residents to call in with tips that could help identify suspects and lead to arrests, Hunter said.

Hunter, who serves as the law enforcement liaison to the local Crime Stoppers branch, said callers can remain anonymous and will receive a $1,000 reward for a tip that leads to an arrest related to break-ins in the area.

The effort offers a $250 reward for tips that enable an arrest tied to car break-ins, he said.

Gunter said the department is increasing its communication with Northside renters and homeowners to better inform community members.

“We’re trying to stay on top of these as best we can, and getting information out to the public is a big piece of that puzzle,” he said.

Contact the City Editor
at city@dailytarheel.com.

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