Neighbors on edge after police cruiser set on fire in Durham neighborhood

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(Credit: WTVD)

DURHAM, N.C. — The Treyburn subdivision in northern Durham has been hit by several recent break-ins and now a police cruiser has been set on fire as well, WTVD reports.

While away on a trip, Elizabeth Ellis learned thieves had busted into her home in one of the recent break-ins.

“This is a very safe neighborhood and we picked it for that,” Ellis told WTVD. “That violation of your home is upsetting.”

Ellis felt better about the recent crimes when she noticed a Durham police squad car parked at the entrance of her subdivision. She felt it represented a clear sign to would-be burglars — until a passerby noticed the same police vehicle going up in flames.

The whole front of the vehicle was on fire, Dylan Aiken said. Aiken immediately called 911.

Emergency crews had the fire out within minutes after being called to the scene.

A police spokesperson says the squad car is considered a total loss.

Frustrated homeowners think the police plan to deter home break-ins is a loss as well.

“[If] you’re going to try to prevent crime, you’re not going to do it with a dummy vehicle,” said one homeowner who asked to remain anonymous. “You want to stop crime? You’ve got to put an active officer out here.”

WTVD cameras spotted a squad car patrolling the neighborhood on Monday.

It is unclear if the torched squad car is the work of pranksters or thieves sending a message of their own.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham police or Crimestoppers at 919-683-1200.