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Officials stress safety for students living in off-campus housing

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article stated that Chapel Ridge, Finley Forest Condos and PineGate were the most targeted apartment complexes for larceny in Chapel Hill. The article also singled out Collins Crossing Apartments in Carrboro as a place with a high frequency of larcenies. This was misleading as the data did not include burglaries or motor vehicle thefts and did not account for the size of the apartment complexes.

Students living around town should make sure to lock their doors and hide their valuables — theft is the most common crime in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

At the major apartment complexes, there were 160 cases of larceny in Chapel Hill last year and 95 in Carrboro.

“Keep your valuables with you and always lock the door,” said Josh Mecimore, public information sergeant for the Chapel Hill Police Department.

“If you’re putting it out there, you’re basically advertising them for stealing.”

In Chapel Hill, larceny in the major apartment complexes increased by 25 percent since 2011.

Last year in Carrboro, larceny dropped by about 22 percent.

Along with larceny, there are also many cases of automobile theft at apartment complexes: 25 in Chapel Hill last year and 22 in Carrboro.

University officials suggested that students research the safety of their potential off-campus housing options.

“Talk to current residents or people who are running management properties,” said Randy Young, spokesman for the UNC Department of Public Safety. “Take precautions.”

UNC also educates students on how to stay safe with Good Neighbor Initiative, which is run through the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement.

Director Aaron Bachenheimer said that students should use common sense when approaching safety.

“Chapel Hill is not a bubble, it’s the real world,” he said.
“Common sense safety precautions will make you far less likely to become a victim,” he added.

Wendy Bateman, a graduate student who moved to Durham apartment when she was a junior, said that safety and proximity to campus were her top priorities.

She suggested that people walk in well-lit areas with a partner at night and use a Safe Ride bus route.

“A lot of people just end up by themselves,” she said.

Students should also stay safe by following town ordinances, said Megan Wooley, housing and neighborhood services planner for Chapel Hill.

Some students break the law through exceeding the occupancy limit for houses, which is capped at four unrelated individuals, she said.

“More student housing is needed to address this over-occupancy problem,” she added.

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