'Fear and panic.' Hispanic women living in fear after targeted attacks in Durham

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Hispanic women in Durham living in fear after targeted attacks
According to Durham police, the crimes have been reported from September 3 through September 12.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Shattered glass remains on the ground in the Shoppes at Lakewood Plaza where Nery Blandin works. She showed ABC11 photos of the moment she discovered someone had broken into her car.

You could see the rock and pieces of glass in her driver's seat.

"They stole some important documents like passports, some money, and medicine," said Blandin. "A lot of fear and panic. Thinking what would happen if that big rock hit me."

Blandin works at El Centro Hispano with Bereniece Malagon, who interpreted the conversation.

"It's scary to see that something is happening around our community," said Malagon.

According to Durham police, within the first 12 days of September, there were four armed robberies and a carjacking targeting Hispanic women across the Bull City. Many of the incidents happened in broad daylight.

Malagon thinks Hispanic women are being targeted for specific reasons.

Versión en español | 'Miedo y pánico.' Mujeres hispanas viven con miedo después de ataques dirigidos en Durham

Many don't report the crimes, she said.

"Some of us are afraid to report to police because of the language barrier or immigration status," she said.

On Tuesday, a staffer walked out of El Futuro, which is just a few doors down from El Centro Hispano, and told ABC11 that someone tried to break into her car Tuesday morning. They didn't catch the suspect.

As for Blandin, she is left wondering how she'll come up with the money to replace her driver's window.

"The mechanic is going to repair the car. That situation cost us more than $500," she said.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call Investigator T. Blake at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29282 or Investigator A. Osborne at (919) 560-4440 ext. 29241. You can also call CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.

This isn't the first time police in Durham have investigated crimes that targeted Latinos.

In July, police said responded to at least 12 different armed robberies that targeted people in the Hispanic community. Between July 1 and July 11, police said several Hispanic victims reported being followed home when leaving businesses on Guess Road near Avondale Drive and Foushee Street. Once at home, police said victims reported being robbed of items such as cash, debit cards and phones.

In the July crimes, police reports obtained by ABC11 showed that the victims were mostly men who ranged in age from young 20s to 75 years old.

'What took them so long?' Advocate says attacks against Hispanics in Durham have long history

Ivan Almonte, an immigrant and Durham Latino community advocate said that he believes crimes against Hispanics are even higher than reported because many are fearful of calling the police. To curb the crime against Latinos, Almonte said he believes leaders, the community, and the police need to come together.

The Durham Police Department is asking community members to be aware of their surroundings and to remember the following crime prevention tips:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Assess your surroundings for suspicious persons before exiting your vehicle
  • Don't leave unattended vehicles running
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your home or vehicle
  • Do not walk alone in dark areas
  • Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash with you
  • If you are confronted, always cooperate with the robber. Your life is more important than items of material value
  • Call 911 as soon as possible after the robbery. Provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible