Durham, N.C. — For at least the 13th time since October, thieves used a vehicle early Friday to smash their way into a Triangle business.
The Rent America store at 2000 Avondale Drive was the latest victim of a so-called "crash-and-grab" robbery. Durham police said a stolen Dodge Caravan slammed through the front of the store shortly before 5 a.m., and the thieves made off with television sets and cash.
Police found the minivan abandoned nearby.
Rent America manager Peter Cole said he initially thought the crime scene was a joke Friday morning.
"You've got to be kidding. No, no really. You've got to be kidding," Cole said.
"It is a little upsetting that something like this happened. Someone thinks they can just get in and take things like that and just keep going," he said. "I guess one way to look at it is that we've got the best deals in town, hot enough that people will do anything they can to get through the door and get it."
Durham police are investigating eight other smash-and-grabs that have occurred since mid-October. Two others have happened in Raleigh, including one at a sweepstakes cafe, and Chapel Hill and Carrboro police are each investigating one case.
Investigators from the various police departments are working together to determine if the same people are responsible for the crimes.
"I just hope the Durham police are able to do something about this so that other businesses don't have to go through this," Cole said, adding that he's determined not to let the thieves steal more than they already have. "We are just going to keep going like it didn't happen."
The map below shows the locations of the crash-and-grab robberies from Raleigh to Carrboro:
View Crash and grab robberies in a larger map