Local News

Burglars targeting Chapel Hill businesses

Posted January 1, 2010 5:36 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2010 6:23 p.m. EST

— Eighteen businesses in Chapel Hill have been broken into in the last six weeks, and police said Friday they believe the crimes are linked.

The businesses are located within a few miles of each other on Weaver Dairy Road, South Elliott Road, South Estes Drive, Fordham Boulevard, East Franklin Street and other nearby roads. Investigators said the circumstances are usually the same in each case.

"The suspects are primarily breaking the glass at the front doors, running (inside) and grabbing whatever cash is available," said Sgt. Ed Brooks of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Julie Holbrook said she found glass shards all over her quilt shop, Thimble Pleasures, when she arrived to open the shop on Nov. 23.

"They just smashed through the glass," Holbrook said. "All the magazines were on the floor, and one of the keys to the register was stolen."

Nothing was stolen, she said, except her sense of security.

"I think they were looking for money, but we have an alarm system, and I think it scared them off," she said.

Frame Makers on Weaver Dairy Road was hit twice in less than two weeks, police said. The burglars also targeted different shopping centers on different nights, police said.

The most that has been taken in any of the break-ins is a couple hundred dollars, Brooks said.

Police got their first break following a Nov. 29 break-in at the Purple Puddle gift shop on South Elliott Road. A surveillance camera at an adjacent shop captured an image of a man standing near the doorway of the business.

Investigators believe at least two people are behind the break-ins, Brooks said.

Police have increased patrols in the area, and they have asked businesses owners to remember to activate their alarms and any surveillance equipment they have when they lock up each night.

"We do work hard, and it is frustrating for us because, if we lose money, we have to pay for repairs for the damage done to the building," Holbrook said.

Anyone with information about the burglaries or the identity of the man shown on the surveillance video is asked to call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515