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Chapel Hill police report spike in number of vehicle break-ins

File photo

File photo

In the month of January, the Chapel Hill Police Department reported a substantial increase in the number of vehicle break-ins when compared to previous years.


The police department reported 51 incidents of larceny from vehicles in January 2017. Normally, they report around 15 to 20 vehicle break-ins in the month of January, according to a statement from the town of Chapel Hill.

Capt. Joshua Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said he isn't sure why this January was so different.

“Couldn’t tell you, unless we find someone responsible, I couldn’t tell you,” Mecimore said.

The items stolen included one tablet, two GPS units, eight laptops, six wallets and 11 pocketbooks.

Mecimore called the thefts "crimes of opportunity," meaning that thieves seize the opportunity when they see a laptop or pocketbook is left in a car.

“It takes just a split second to take items of value out of a car and run,” he said.

Mecimore said he recommends that people lock their cars and take valuable items out of the car or place them in the trunk.

“We don’t find that covering things up helps,” said Mecimore, “You can tell when a jacket is covering an item.”

Meriwynn Mansori, a Chapel Hill resident, recently had her car broken into at her home. Mansori left her car unlocked the night the break-in happened.

“It is very surprising, you just don’t think of that happening in a very quiet neighborhood in Chapel Hill,” Mansori said.

Mansori had a box of Altoid mints and about two dollars in change stolen from her car.

“The only reason I reported it was because someone was in my car," she said. "I didn’t care about the mints — I cared about someone being in my car."

UNC junior Kelsey Broussard said she worries about her car being broken into and is not surprised by the record of break-ins this month.

“I worry about my car, my house, everything," she said. "It’s sketchy sometimes."

Mecimore said the break-ins happen in a variety of places both during the day and at night.

“A number of incidents has happened at fitness centers, YMCA, O2 Fitness, University Mall in the day time,” Mecimore said, “Night happens in residential areas.”

Mansori said she thinks the police do a good job responding to calls and helping residents.

“I have always found the police in Chapel Hill to be extremely responsive,” Mansori said.

Mecimore said he can’t say for sure if the rest of the year of vehicle break-ins will be as record breaking.

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“I certainly hope not, but we don’t really have any expectations for that, but crime tends to stay relatively consistent, but it is very unusual to see such a spike in that number,” Mecimore said.