Teen arrested in dozens of Durham motor vehicle thefts, break-ins

Jamiese Price Image
Monday, September 11, 2023
Durham teen arrested in string of car thefts and break-ins
The teen was taken into custody on Aug. 30 after officers responded to a vehicle break-in in progress in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn & Suites.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Police said Monday that they have arrested a 14-year-old boy who was wanted in connection to a recent string of motor vehicle thefts and break-ins in downtown and surrounding areas.

The teen was taken into custody shortly after 3 a.m. on Aug. 30 after officers responded to a vehicle break-in in progress in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn & Suites in the 1500 block of North Gregson Street.

The suspect tried to run away but officers ran him down. Officers found a gun on him that had been reported stolen in Morrisville. Juvenile petitions are pending for this incident.

Police said the juvenile suspect was also involved in a slew of car thefts and break-ins in July in the 500 block of Foster Street in Durham and in other cases.

DPD's Property Crimes Division filed 87 juvenile petitions on the teen.

In addition, the teen was also wanted in another county on charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, minor in possession of a handgun, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle stemming from a July incident.

The teen is being held in secured custody.

Back on Foster Street, neighbors were out and about enjoying their Monday evening -- walking their dogs and eating dinner. It's part of the draw to the neighborhood for Susan Zhang and Heath Beckett.

"We love that about downtown Durham," Zhang said. "Very walkable, a lot of businesses, really great community."

But this area has been the target of car break-ins and car theft.

Besides the 40 cars broken into at a parking deck on Foster Street -- where five vehicles were stolen but later recovered -- 35 vehicles were broken into on West Chapel Hill Street at West End Apartments.

"We usually tell people not to leave things visible in the car. And I know some of our neighbors, they go so far as to not even lock their car doors. So people just can open it and not have to break the window," Zhang said.

"We don't do that, though," Beckett chimed in.

"We don't do that," Zhang echoed. "We just don't leave anything visible. So, a lot of people take pretty extreme precautions."

At the Hampton Inn, hotel staff said the property has since implemented additional security and has surveillance video.

"We are aware of the break-ins to guest vehicles. We have cooperated fully with local law enforcement in their investigations into these incidents," a spokesperson for Hampton Inn & Suites told ABC11. "We are confident these were targeted, isolated incidents, but we have increased security presence at the property and have trained hotel staff on what steps to take in the event they see suspicious persons on the property ... Our customers' and employees' safety is our No. 1 priority."

A hotel guest said the incident was "sad."

"It don't matter how old you are, right? Right is right and wrong is wrong, you know, but don't steal to get your way in the world," said Keith Crowe, of Georgia, who was staying at the Hampton Inn. "I pray for the youth of this country today. You know, I just pray that, you know, they do the right thing."

Anyone with further information on these crimes is asked to call Sgt. M. Stevenson at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29554 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

*Editor's Note: On Friday, September 15, Durham PD said they had released the incorrect age of the teenager facing charges. He is 14 and not 16.

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