Lt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said the department saw a 25 percent reduction in break-ins from last year and a 21 percent reduction over the last three years.
The department tracks break-ins from Dec. 12 to Jan. 8. Mecimore said there were 39 break-ins in the 2014-15 school year and 29 this year. Winter Break often sees a marked increase in break-ins for off-campus student residences.
Mecimore said not only extra officers on patrol, but student responsiveness to police advice explains the improvement. Things like turning a TV cardboard box inside out when you recycle it and locking doors and windows can significantly reduce the chances of losing a valuable item. Technology should also not be left in a residence for long periods of time.
Students who had their residences broken into over break mainly reported they didn’t lose anything of significant value because they followed police guidelines, Mecimore said.
“That’s a positive sign, I think, and it’s one that I’m hoping that, as Spring Break comes, and then the summer break happens, and then people come back to school, that we’ll see that continue to be the case — because we’ll certainly continue to push that message,” he said.
Chapel Hill Town Council member Jessica Anderson has had cars and apartments broken into while living in Durham, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Her time in Chapel Hill, though, has been devoid of the problem. She attributes this not only to living in a house, but to confidence in the Police Department and the town overall.
“The Chapel Hill Police Department does a really great job working through these issues and trying to work on prevention, not just remedying after the fact, but I do think we live in a relatively safe community,” Anderson said.
Anderson said crime as a whole might increase as Chapel Hill and the Triangle grow. Right now, the council is more focused on development issues.