A relatively isolated string of vehicle break-ins has prompted police here to send a message to residents on social media, reminding them to lock their cars at night.
The notice was made, police said, because the thieves technically didn’t have to break in to gain entry into the vehicles – they merely had to pull the handle.
In all four cases in the Whitley Manor area early Monday morning – three on Lakeside Circle and one in the 600 block of Stratford Drive – someone rummaged through unlocked vehicles parked in the driveways of the residences.
Only change was taken from one of the vehicles and nothing was missing from the other three. But the Police Department’s posts on Facebook and Twitter contained valuable information for residents going forward.
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Police advised residents to be sure to lock their vehicle’s doors after exiting their cars, and to park near a street light or in an area with video surveillance for those who have to park in a local lot.
“The Police Department continues to receive complaints that items are being stolen from their vehicles parked in their driveways overnight,” the announcement said. “Common items taken include iPods, GPS devices, purses and wallets.”
Lt. Ashley Dixon, who manages the department’s social media, conveyed one other important point to residents in the posts.
“Lastly, if you have been victimized we urge you not to touch anything and contact 911 immediately,” the posts said. “Do not move your vehicle, or touch any items that may be left behind.”
Dixon on Tuesday said at least one of the Monday-morning victims drove their car away from the site where it was raided.
Doing so, she said, interferes with detectives’ ability to find out who is responsible for such crimes.
“I want to stress the fact that if you go out in the morning and your car is rummaged through, the lights are on, the window’s busted out, anything of that nature, please don’t get in your car and drive to work,” Dixon said. “Please call police and file a report. If the vehicle is moved, the crime scene is contaminated and we cannot call (City-County Bureau of Identification) out. They will not process your vehicle if it has been moved.”
Dixon referred to Monday’s break-ins as crimes of opportunity. Those who commit them, she said, typically target more than one residence, often moving down an entire street pulling on door handles if possible.
She said if anyone sees a person lurking or doing anything suspicious, they should call 911.
Anyone who would like police to review video surveillance of an incident at their home can call the department at 919-823-1818.
“If there is something valuable you must keep in your vehicle, tuck it away – if you don’t have to have it in there, take it out,” Dixon said. “That’s what they’re looking for, is cellphones, wallets, firearms, sunglasses, computer bags, tools – anything they can make a dollar off of.”