The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday May 31st

Break times yield more break-ins in Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Police say students and residents should make sure to lock up before leaving for break this week.

Lt. Josh Mecimore, spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said the department typically sees more break-ins during fall, winter and spring breaks and that students are the ideal targets for burglars and thieves.

“During times like spring and fall break, students are more likely to be away so that increases the likelihood that they will be victimized,” Mecimore said.

Mecimore added that college students also have more valuable items that people are looking to steal.

“The typical items that people who break into residences want are electronics because they are easily resold and have a decent value,” Mecimore said. “College students have a lot of electronics.”

Mark Geercken of the Chapel Hill Police Department’s Community Service Unit said the department has increased its patrolling over spring break after seeing data that showed criminals targeting student homes during breaks.

“We bring in more officers and engage in more data-driven policing,” Mecimore said. “We look at trends of the past and know that historically, the past tends to repeat itself.”

Between 2010 and 2013, Chapel Hill saw an average of 11.25 break-ins during the week of spring break. In the week after spring break, police responded to an average of 13 break-ins during that same period.

But Chapel Hill police still narrow their spring break patrol efforts on areas where students traditionally live since they know those homes will likely be vacant.

Chapel Hill saw 17 break-ins during the week of spring break in 2010. That number fell 76.5 percent to just 4 break-ins last spring break.

Chapel Hill Police Patrol Capt. Danny Lloyd said he hopes the department’s efforts influenced the decrease but said there are outside variables that also play a part.

“We would like to think our patrols in the past have made a difference, but it’s hard to say for certain,” said Lloyd.

Lloyd said students forget important safety procedures due to the excitement of leaving school.

“Having been there myself, I know that the last thing students are thinking about after midterms is locking up, putting lights on timers and things like that,” Lloyd said. “They just want to get out of town and start their break.”

Geercken said officers put flyers up around town in the last few weeks to inform residents and students of safety precautions they should take over the break.

He said break-ins tend to be a problem for students living with multiple housemates.

“The biggest thing is a convenience factor,” Geercken said. “It is just easier for people to walk out the door without locking it or give out the code to their sorority or fraternity house so that anybody can just come and go.”

Lloyd said students should leave a radio on when they go out of town.

“That way, if someone comes up to your house and they are listening for sounds of someone inside and they hear it, they won’t know if it’s a person or something else,” Lloyd said.

Mecimore said officers are encouraging students and residents to pay attention to their safety tips and added that people staying in Chapel Hill should be observant of their surroundings.

“The most basic thing we would ask people to do is that if you see something that doesn’t seem normal, it seems out of the ordinary, call us,” Mecimore said.

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