Smash and grab thieves targeting American Tobacco Trail

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A series of smash and grab robberies have Durham residents on edge. (WTVD)

A series of smash and grab robberies has neighbors of the American Tobacco Trail in Durham on edge.

A thief is breaking windows in unoccupied vehicles near a Tobacco Trail parking lot off Fayetteville Street and taking off with the victims' belongings.

Aline Dawson says the problem has got so bad, she and her husband have posted warning signs in the parking lot.

"I'm afraid," Dawson said. "There have been so many of them in the last three months. Sometimes multiples per week."

Two weekends ago, Alicia Ramos says it happened to her in broad daylight. She's now driving a rental car after a thief caused $2,800 worth of damage to her windows.

"There was nothing there but an umbrella," Ramos stated.

Neighbors say police do patrol the area, and recently the city removed excess brush around trees to make the parking lot more visible from the street.

Neighbors say more needs to be done. Dawson wants the parking lot shutdown.

That's not the solution Charleston resident Steven Puchkoff is looking for, though. Wednesday was his second day using the trail, and he would rather see the city install a camera.

He doesn't want these smash and grab thieves to scare people away from the trail.

"I would probably be a little safer with my car, but other than that I think I would definitely come back," Puchkoff explained.

ABC11 spoke with Durham City Manager Tom Bonfeld about the crimes. He said closing the parking lot is not an option. If this problem persists, though, the city may consider installing cameras in the area.

Currently, cameras along the Tobacco Trail are closer to downtown.

The Durham Police Department suggests these tips on staying safe:

- Be aware of your surroundings and your neighbors.
- Do not leave packages in plain view inside your vehicle. Put them in the trunk or cover them up.
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
- Keep a record of serial numbers for stereo equipment, amplifiers, and other personal items.
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
- Report suspicious activity to 911 immediately - when in doubt, call 911.
- Secure your vehicle at all times. Lock your doors and do not crack open your windows even in the summertime.

Related Topics:
smash and grabbreak-incar theftDurham
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