LUMBERTON — Lumberton police are telling residents to lock their cars after several were broken into and one was stolen last week.
Five residents in and around The Oaks neighborhood in North Lumberton reported that their cars were broken into overnight on Thursday, according to police report. Four of the vehicles were unlocked, the reports said.
“We try to patrol all the neighborhoods,” said Lumberton police Lt. Harold Jackson. “We have these problems scattered throughout Lumberton so we try to patrol everywhere.”
Chief Michael McNeill believes the rash of crime was an isolated incident.
“We’re just going to keep on patrolling there like we’ve already done,” he said.
Danny Cook, the chairman of the neighborhood’s Community Watch, is asking police to step up surveillance.
“I’m not up at 2 or 3 in the morning to verify that they’re doing that, we just simply ask that they do that and, working together, hopefully that will be achieved,” he said.
Cook is also hoping more residents will exercise vigilance, beginning with a Community Watch meeting on May 8 at 7 p.m. in the Wesley Pines auditorium.
“There haven’t been a whole lot of problems so community watch hasn’t been that active in the last year, year and a half or so,” he said. “… Now that we’ve had these break-ins, there seems to be a renewed sense of wanting to get involved.”
William Talton, of White Oak Drive, was the first to report a break-in Friday at about 6:30 a.m. Sometime after 10 p.m. on Thursday, a person went into his unlocked 2007 Toyota Tundra and stole a $1,000 Toshiba laptop, a $40 black wallet and multiple bank cards. In addition, his 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe was missing, according to a police report.
According to Jackson, the car was later found near the intersection of Mount Olive Church Road and Roberts Avenue in Lumberton.
About two hours later and 10 minutes away, Eric West reported his unlocked 2007 GMC Yukon was broken into sometime after 8 the night before, according to a police report. An unknown amount of cash and a pack of cigarettes were missing. According to the report, West had gone out to check his car after he received a Facebook message from a neighbor about a vehicle break-in.
At about 10:30 a.m., James Kristopher Thoman, of Redwood Court, discovered his 2007 Nissan Altima, which was locked, had been broken into. A Seiko stainless steel watch, valued at $99.99, was stolen, according to a police report. The break-in occurred sometime after 7 p.m., the report said.
Patricia Hammonds and Robin Hunt, neighbors on nearby Amberdale Circle, noticed their cars had been broken into shortly afterward.
Hunt reported at 10:50 a.m. that someone had broken into her 2005 BMW 525i after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, stealing $5 as well as the car’s change holder, according to a police report. About $200 in damage was done to the unlocked car’s armrest, the report said.
Half an hour later, Hammonds notified police that someone had rifled through her unlocked 2011 Honda Accord. Nothing was stolen and the car was not damaged, according to a police report. Hammonds told police that the glove box was open and the car was scattered with papers.
Many people in the neighborhood began to post about the incidents on Facebook, catching the attention of Lumberton city Councilman Burnis Wilkins.
“A lot of other people started saying my car was entered, they stole a bunch of change out of my car, and I started noticing people weren’t reporting it, just posting it,” he said.
Drawing from more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, Wilkins posted back.
“What I did was go back in and post an alert for the neighborhood saying a rash of break-ins had occurred,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins advised that residents stow away any valuables, even their GPS systems, to avoid catching a criminal’s eye.
Jackson agrees residents can play a big role in preventing similar incidents.
“If you don’t leave valuables in plain sight and lock your doors that should help,” he said.
Cook said the criminals could have struck anywhere.
“At the end of the day … a criminal is going to find a way to partake in their criminal act,” he said, “and the best we can do is work together and be vigilant.”