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UNC students awakened during Chapel Hill break-ins

Posted February 25, 2011

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— Police were searching for a man who broke into two homes off Rosemary Street early Friday, awakening the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students who live there.

Both burglaries occurred between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. in the 300 block of Church Street and Pritchard Avenue, police said. In both cases, the man entered through unlocked front doors.

In one break-in, two people awoke to a man standing in their respective bedrooms, waving a cell phone in their faces, police said. In the other incident, a woman woke up while the man was rubbing her leg.

Nothing was taken from either home, and the man fled both times when women screamed for help, police said.

Nearby residents said a man also walked into a third home – also through an unlocked door – on Friday, but police haven't confirmed that case.

A police report lists a "sexual motive" for the break-ins, but police said they aren't really sure what the man was after.

"We are not sure if he just took the opportunity at these two homes because the doors were unlocked or if he tried other homes in the area, but if he is still in Chapel Hill, in the area, there is a possibility he could strike again," said Lt. Kevin Gunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Chapel Hill break-ins UNC students awakened during Chapel Hill break-ins

Gunter urged local residents to lock their doors and windows and asked that they report any suspicious activity to police. College students sometimes wait to call, so investigators can't respond as soon as they would like, he said.

"It's awful that that happened to them, but it definitely is kind of a wake-up call for everyone else," said UNC senior Hannah Harrill, who lives next door to the Church Street home.

UNC officials posted an alert about the incidents online, but officials said they didn't plan to send an e-mail to all students.

"This is just a weird, scary kind of thing," Harrill said. "It's almost scarier – something like this – than if someone just broke in and took some computers."

The burglar is described as a black man, 6 feet tall with a medium build. He is either bald or has very short hair and might have a thin goatee. He was wearing a blue or olive green short-sleeve shirt.

Anyone with information about the break-ins is asked to call either the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.

13 Comments

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  • turtledove Feb 25, 2011

    When you don't lock your doors you are asking for trouble.

  • Tax Man Feb 25, 2011

    Don't be entering my house at night or you will be visiting the coroner! Still, why don't these folks lock their doors when they get home? Safety please!

  • GWALLY Feb 25, 2011

    ..."police report lists a "sexual motive" for the break-ins, but police said they aren't really sure what the man was after..."

    hmmmmm...since the report lists "sexual motive" as the reason for the break in...I think the police SHOULD be able to figure WHAT the man was AFTER pretty doggone quick...!!!!

  • sarahsoandso Feb 25, 2011

    Thank you, Snakebite Survivor. Fix it, WRAL! C'mon!

  • wildcat Feb 25, 2011

    STUDENTS LOCKED YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS BEFORE RETIRING FOR THE NIGHT. BE RESPONSIBLE. THERE IS NO WAY A PERSON CAN GET INTO YOUR PLACE IF YOU DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO. I DO HOPE THEY CATCH THIS MAN.

  • wildcat Feb 25, 2011

    but it shouldn't be a surprise when valuables are left unsecured and in plain view

    You are absolutely right on that. You see valuables throught the windows of homes and cars all the time. Don't people care or they just waiting until it happens to them?

  • Snakebite Survivor Feb 25, 2011

    Somebody "waiving" a cell phone? Ahem!

  • wildcat Feb 25, 2011

    It confuses me to even say this person broke into a home when the door was unlocked!

    Good comment. After the murder of Ms. Carson, you would think students and all would learn to lock their doors and windows. Just being safe. They did not break in, they just walk right in like in the Carson case.

  • wildcat Feb 25, 2011

    A picture of the person would have been nice.

  • mpheels Feb 25, 2011

    Sadly, it happens all the time. The Daily Tar Heel police blotter almost always includes several cases of valuables stolen from unlocked homes or unlocked cars. Stealing is wrong, but it shouldn't be a surprise when valuables are left unsecured and in plain view. I'm sure part of it is a false sense of security in Chapel Hill, but a larger part is just a lack of common sense among 18-22 year olds. I'm willing to bet a fair number of NCSU students leave their doors unlocked as well.

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