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Highway Patrol Reexamines Security After Series of Break-Ins

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HENDERSON — TheNorth Carolina Highway Patroloperates out of command centers in eight districts with several smaller offices in each district. TheState Bureau of Investigationis investigating a handful of break-ins at the Highway Patrol's smaller, satellite offices where guns and drugs are missing.

In Vance County, bold burglars broke a window and pryed open four doors. They walked past new computers and copy machines, apparently not finding what they came for.

"A trooper found the break-in Saturday morning. She looked around and we looked around later also and we could not find anything missing at this time. It did seem strange" says Sgt. Eric Jackson.

In break-ins at Highway Patrol offices across the state, Sgt. Jeff Winstead says burglars have gotten away with 30 guns and an undisclosed amount of marijuana.

Since May, burglars have broken into offices in Ahoskie, Rocky Mount, Halifax and Vance Counties. The buildings are older and located in rural areas. Winstead says the locations are not highly secure.

"Just look at some of our facilities. Some of them are quite old. Look at the nature and type of the construction," he says.

N.C. Highway Patrol leaders are already working to tighten security.

"Obviously, the evidence handling is one of the major concerns there, something that's been under study for a great length of time, and upgrading the vaults that will be used throughout the state."

Winstead says guns and drugs will be taken to vaults at more secure locations and not left in these satellite offices for long periods of time. andDoug Bricker


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