The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 31st

Chapel Hill police say break-ins spike over break

“We frequently see that increase after people return,” Lt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill police, said.

Because the break-ins occur while no one is home, the police usually don’t receive a report until after the holidays are over. The police do, however, increase patrolling so that if suspicious activity is noticed around a specific area, they have a time frame to work with.

UNC sophomore Olivia Highfill, who lives off campus, said she began taking precautions after a friend’s car was broken into.

“We bought a ‘beware of dog’ sign and a false security sign,” she said.

Many of Mecimore’s safety tips are standard, but he said because of the high turnover rate of tenants and the multiple roommates that come with living in a college town, the simple rules are the ones forgotten most frequently — locking doors and windows is his number one tip.

“Especially in an apartment,” he said. “If you are on the second or third floor and leave a sliding glass door open thinking that no one can reach it.”

He stressed that everything is accessible to criminals who have been practicing.

“I know several break-ins were because weather doors were unlocked, sometimes even left open or windows were unlocked,” Bob Lincoln, owner of Redbud Student Rentals, said.

Lincoln equips all of his apartments with alarm systems, radios and timers for lamps.

“The timer turns the lamp on and off throughout the night, which makes it look like someone is actually home,” he said. “When you’re gone, leave a radio on talk radio, so it sounds like there are people inside talking.”

UNC senior Lauren O’Connor said she and her housemates have special procedures for the holidays.

“Whenever we’re all gone we put the TV (on) in somebody’s room and lock the room and all the other overtly expensive things go in too,” she said.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue suggests keeping a record of all the valuables you leave in your home. Having a serial number or description is incredibly useful when tracking down your property, he said.

“It’s really a good idea to take valuables with you,” he said. “Take things with you that are readily portable.”

Getting to know your neighbors also plays an important role in security, said Mecimore.

“A lot of issues go down in numbers when you know your neighbors,” he said.

Lincoln said his favorite security tip is to purchase a recording of a dog growling.

“Very few people want to break into a house that has a barking, growling dog,” he said.

Blue said tenants should try to work with their landlords for further precautions such as trimming bushes, so there are limited areas to hide, and installing motion-sensing porch lights.

“Those kinds of common sense crime preventing tips can be really, really effective in deterring someone from breaking into your property,” Blue said.


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