Car windows smashed in American Tobacco Trail parking lots - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Car windows smashed in American Tobacco Trail parking lots

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Shattered glass litters three parking lots in southern Durham near trail heads. Shattered glass litters three parking lots in southern Durham near trail heads.
Three parking lots near American Tobacco Trail heads in southern Durham have been targeted. Three parking lots near American Tobacco Trail heads in southern Durham have been targeted.
DURHAM, N.C. -

It's a neighborhood not used to crime, but now someone is smashing car windows and getting away with valuables in one part of suburban Durham, just days before Christmas.

The crime spree is happening in parking lots near American Tobacco Trail heads in southern Durham near Highway 751.

One parking lot is in the 7600 block of Fayetteville Road and two more are located off Scott King Road about a mile away.  Thieves are targeting runners who leave their valuables in the car and causing extensive damage.

Public Information Officer Paul Sherwin with the Durham County Sheriff's Office says the most recent break-in happened on Thursday along Scott King Road.  Broken glass from one of those break-ins is still littered all over a gravel parking lot.  Sherwin says whomever is doing this often uses a rock to smash through a car window.  Then they grab items from inside like wallets, cell phones, cash and purses.

Broken glass was the first thing Ann McAndrew and her friend Suzan noticed when they pulled up for their regular bike ride on Friday afternoon.

"We were hoping it wouldn't hit around here because we've been riding out here for several years now, come out any time we think," McAndrew said.  "She {Suzan} comes alone sometimes.  I've only come alone once or twice and we've felt completely safe ... and now I don't know."

A thief, or thieves, have hit up cars along Scott King Road four times in the last five weeks.  Across the street at Herndon Park, three cars have been targeted in the last six months and a mile away at a trail head in the 7600 block of Fayetteville Road close to the Streets at Southpoint, no fewer than 11 cars have had their windows smashed in the last six months.

"They're looking for purses, cell phones, GPS units, wallets," Sherwin said.

Deputies have been keeping a closer eye out lately as these crimes have picked up.  Sherwin says the crooks in these cases are particularly bold.

"Because whoever's doing it is actually breaking in to the vehicle.  The vast majority of items that are stolen from cars are stolen from unlocked cars," he said.

The crimes are also unusual because they are happening in the daytime when there's plenty of people around.

Brett Hiemenz, who regularly runs on the trail, says he's not surprised by the recent crime spree.

"I hear about plenty of break-ins into homes around this area," Hiemenz said.  "It wouldn't surprise me given there are unprotected cars along this route that you would have break-ins along here."

"It does make me think twice about running in this area," Jim Pullen said.  "I hadn't realized there were problems here."

Sherwin says, so far, they do not have any suspects or descriptions.  If you have information, contact the Durham County Sheriff's Office at (919) 560-0900.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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