WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police are investigating a string of vehicle break-ins which happened over the weekend, adding that the crimes are on the rise in the city.
“For those ones that [are] doing it, get yourself a job,” said Ron Gore, whose car was broken into – as was his son’s – over the weekend. “Go get you a job, you can get a job.”
Gore’s home was just one targeted over the weekend by the thieves. In his case, the most valuable item stolen was his son’s laptop, which he needs for school. The theft forced his family to buy a new laptop so his son could keep up with his studies.
“Somebody invaded my privacy, they come in my yard and took my stuff that I work hard for,” Gore said.
About a five-minute drive away from Gore’s home, on Branch Point Circle, attempted and successful vehicle break-ins were caught on home surveillance video.
“I thought it was chilling,” said Terri Kirby Erickson, whose vehicles were locked when the suspects tried to break in. “Just to know that we were all asleep and that’s when human beings are at their most vulnerable.”
Although the thieves were not able to enter her vehicles, some of her neighbors who left their vehicles unlocked were not spared. The neighborhood in which they live was recently developed.
“Sometimes when you first move some place it’s very idyllic, it feels like of course this is safe,” she said. “We like our neighbors, we feel safe. But I guess nobody’s really safe anymore.”
Winston-Salem police say they are investigating the break-ins and are asking for assistance identifying the suspects.
So far this year, officers say there have been 1,758 vehicle break-ins in the city of Winston-Salem. That is compared to 1,445 in the city in the same time frame in 2016.
“You’re mad,” Gore said, of becoming a victim. “It’s like, if somebody come, and got in my car, and I’m in the house, if I come outside they might hurt me.”
Winston-Salem police add that there were a total of 2,036 vehicle break-ins in the city in all of 2016.
“Main thing, keep them locked and that’s about all I can say. I don’t know what else we can really do. You know, we all have to sleep,” Kirby Erickson said. “So, it’s fortunate we had cameras, and we do here, so anybody else who comes back you will be on film.”
Police add that the majority of vehicle break-ins are the result of vehicles being left unlocked.
Last week, Winston-Salem police announced a total of 156 charges against four teens, ages 14 to 17. Although the investigation is ongoing and additional details will not be released, they say the teens are responsible for approximately $98,000 dollars’ worth of stolen and/or recovered goods.