Fayetteville Neighborhood Plagued by Break-Ins, Vandalism
Posted March 11, 2008
Fayetteville, N.C. — Residents of one Fayetteville neighborhood complain that police have been slow to respond to a wave of burglaries and vandalism.
Willie Willbrock said he came home one day in November to find the windows of his BMW shattered. A week later, he said, thieves broke into his Dodge Durango. Both cars were spray-painted as well, he said.
"Right now, it's just vandalism. what's next?" Willbrock said. “Even though we seem to get the officers out here, we get the same story about (the police) being undermanned and short of people and that they’re doing the best they can.”
His neighbor, Sarah Hildreth, said two young men walked up to her front door in December, tried to kick it in and ran off with $1,500 in gifts a UPS delivery driver had left at her house.
Two houses away, somebody drive maniacally through a yard, knocking down a white fence, before driving off, Hildreth said.
“(The crime is) escalating. That’s the problem,” she said. "Everything that has happened, we hear it's the same group."
The Arran Lakes West subdivision, near Bingham Drive, was one of the neighborhoods forcibly annexed by Fayetteville three years ago. It doesn't fit the image of a crime-plagued neighborhood – it has well-kept yards around picturesque lakes – but a local gang expert said the turnover of Fayetteville's military population can create problems.
"You have a very transient society. You have a lot of rental homes. They may be nice homes, but they're still rental homes," said Hunter Glass, a former Fayetteville police gang investigator who's now a consultant. “A lot of people, they’re just coming and going. They’re not planning on sticking around for a length of time.”
Fayetteville police said they have seen spray-painting on signs in the area to indicate gang activity, and they told residents their troubles are likely gang-related.
In recent months, the Fayetteville Police Department has sent crime-prevention officers to the area to help residents protect themselves. Spokeswoman Jamie Smith said neighborhood patrols also were increased in Arran Lakes West late last year.
The combination of efforts have led crimes in the neighborhood to taper off to seven break-ins during the past two weeks, Smith said.
"It's not anything that we can't handle. We do see an increase in break-ins throughout the city in different spots now and then, and it's something that they've learned to handle," she said.