Local News

Police Say Raleigh Man Confesses To More Than 70 Burglaries

Posted November 7, 2003 1:47 a.m. EST

— Raleigh police say they have put an end to a crime spree that targeted more than 70 homes.

Officers said a man confessed to the crime spree, which hit neighborhoods linked by Wade Avenue and Hillsborough Street.

Homeowners said they are relieved but still cautious.

It has been a tense couple of months in University Park and other nearby neighborhoods with repeated reports of break-ins and thievery.

"The worry on your mind for your home, your neighbors, was just eating at us every day," said Lisa Meeks, of the neighborhood Homeowners' Association.

Raleigh police say they have the man responsible. Thirty-six year-old Vernon Brice faces three burglary charges. But investigators believe he is connected to many more.

"He has admitted to breaking into over 70 homes at this time," said Raleigh Lt. John Lynch.

The crimes followed the same patterns, in method and location. The neighborhoods hit, time and time again, were near major roads. One is near N.C. State University. So it is not unusual for neighbors to see strangers walking through the neighborhood. That is what Brice told police he was counting on.

According to police, Brice picked his targets in the early evening. He passed up homes with alarms and knocked on doors to make sure no one was home.

"I have had people come up to my door and make unusual requests," said Russ Stephenson, of the Homeowners' Association.

Investigators said Brice looked for small items that he could trade or sell to feed his drug habit.

The news of his arrest was just getting out to victimized neighborhoods Thursday, when Meeks said she and her neighbors will not let down their guard. The whole experience, she said, has made them all more nosy and more neighborly.

Police said they have recovered a small portion of the stolen property. They are looking for more information that might connect Brice to other similar crimes in and around Raleigh.