Local News

Community listserv used to apprehend suspected hit-and-run driver

Posted November 7, 2011

— Residents of two Chapel Hill neighborhoods used a community mailing list to gather enough information about a hit-and-run for authorities to make an arrest, police said Monday.

Michael Patrick Harper, 21, of Chesley Lane in Chapel Hill, was charged with injury to real property, injury to personal property, reckless driving and hit-and-run. He was released after posting a $5,000 bond.

A driver hit a car parked on Leclair Street on Oct. 13, knocking the vehicle 11 feet into a nearby yard, police said.

People who live in the Ridgefield and Briarcliff neighborhoods were so upset that the driver didn't stop after the crash that they used the local listserv to collect clues as to the driver's identity, police said. The information helped police identify Harper as a suspect.

"We appreciate the innovative thinking on the part of the community, their willingness to get involved," said Sgt. Josh Mecimore of Chapel Hill Police Department. "To solve crimes, we need community members to step up and take an active role in it."


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 8, 2011

    @mharperp, everything reported above is fact. The police arrested you, charged you with XYZ and the neighborhood helped find you. WRAL writers clearly know that Americans are innocent until proven guilty, unlike so many regular 'mericans 'round these parts, who sooner lynch you than give you a fair trial. (e.g. many GOLO commenters)

    If you weren't driving, then those facts will surely come out and then you're on your merry way...with the right to sue anyone who intentionally defamed you.

    And just know that it could be worse. They just let two deathrow prisoners out of jail who served 10+ years for murders that DNA proved they didn't commit.

  • mharperp Nov 8, 2011

    Notice thy said "A driver..." so that I couldn't sue their foolish station for libel when the courts don't charge me because I wasn't driving. Way to go, WRAL for simultaneously damaging my reputation and covering your behind for it.

  • danunger Nov 8, 2011

    Glad to see a computer being used for something constructive. Caught the infamous "Opie".

  • davido Nov 7, 2011

    Yes, this is the new "face" of community policing. We have an email list in our neighborhood and it is really excellent to know when there has been a crime, and when there has been even an unexpected parked vehicle or people soliciting.

  • fitteryou Nov 7, 2011

    No, not everyone wants to be a CSI; Everyone wants people to be honest and own up to their mistakes.

  • pstroud2 Nov 7, 2011

    listserv's are what was on the internet before you found it

  • lilymae Nov 7, 2011

    "what the eheck is listserv? Must be a Chapel Hill thing. — americaneel"

    Listserv — An automatic mailing list server developed by Eric Thomas for BITNET in 1986. When e-mail is addressed to a LISTSERV mailing list, it is automatically broadcast to everyone on the list. Neighborhoods often use them to disseminate information of importance such as info about break-ins, lost pets, items for sale, etc.

    Has nothing to do with Chapel Hill.

  • PeaceOut2017 Nov 7, 2011

    everyone's a CSI wannabe

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 7, 2011

    Need more people to be vigalent.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 7, 2011

    @americaneel, an email list is where neighbors form an online group (e.g. googlegroups, yahoogroups) and exchange emails about everthing neighborly: "curb alerts" for free stuff on your curb, people looking for fresh rosemary or basil, good school tutors/babysitters, recent crimes, block parties, etc.

    I've been on two in Durham for several years now. It's like a microwave...once you've had one, you can never live without it again.