American Tobacco Trail robberies under investigation
Posted July 17, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Durham police are investigating a third robbery on the American Tobacco Trail in less than a month.
Investigators say a woman was rollerblading along the trail near Otis Street around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday when a man armed with a gun wearing a black T-shirt, red Adidas shoes and a black doo-rag robbed her of her cellphone.
It was the same general location where a man was robbed of his cellphone and music player on July 5.
A Durham police spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon that two men walking on the trail the afternoon of June 18 were also robbed at gunpoint by two men.
The crimes are the first reported robberies on the trail this year. Last year, there were 13 reports of crimes, including robberies, simple assaults and indecent exposure.
Police have increased patrols in the area, and volunteers with the Trail Watch Program also keep an eye on the 7-mile stretch of trail that runs through Durham.
"It's frustrating to us to see this continue to happen, even though we are out there doing our best to put a presence out on the Tobacco Trail," said Gene Carleton, facilitator for the Trail Watch Program.
There's also a security camera at the trail's entrance at Blackwell Street.
Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol Broadcasting Co., which paid for the camera, said the company is in the planning process of installing anywhere from 10 to 20 additional cameras along the trail.
CBC, the parent company of WRAL, also owns the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham and uses its own security system to monitor the current camera 24 hours a day.
Goodmon said the company is working with the city of Durham to determine where additional camera should be installed.
Despite the three robberies this year, people were out biking and running along the trail Wednesday, including Linda Jeffries.
She said she bikes on the trail about five days a week and feels frustrated by the crimes, despite efforts by police and the community.
She doesn't know what else can be done.
"You can't be at every section of this trail at all times," Jeffries said. "I don't have any more ideas of what they can do at this point. But we, as trail uses, need to take a lot of the responsibility."