WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- People in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem have seen crime come in waves over recent years. In particular, they’ve grown used to locking their vehicles thanks to people raiding them. However, in recent months, home break-ins have become a growing problem; a problem which has doubled in the past month.
“We know crime’s all around, we just probably felt it was a little less likely to happen in this neighborhood,” said Vince Higgins, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “Now I think it’s a wake-up call that it’s going everywhere.”
In June, Winston-Salem police say there were 10 vehicle break-ins, as well as nine home break-ins. Through three weeks in July, there have been 12 vehicle break-ins and 18 home break-ins.
“I guess it’s one thing if someone breaks in and you’re not home,” said Deborah Koerner, an Admore resident of eight years. “Things can be replaced, but people can’t be.”
However, police say they have seen a new trend; burglars breaking into homes at night while the owners are there.
“In the middle of the night when someone’s breaking into your home, that’s a pretty dangerous scenario for everybody involved,” Higgins said.
One incident which has residents questioning the moral fiber of the criminals is what happened to an 89-year-old widow just after midnight on July 16.
Police confirmed that four people, some armed with handguns, entered the woman’s home after cutting through a screen in a window of her home. They then held the woman at gunpoint while they ransacked her home and stole items of value, before stealing her vehicle, which they eventually crashed.
On Tuesday, Winston-Salem SWAT members, along with the US Marshal’s Office, arrested 18-year-old Reginald Lamont Bonilla in connection to the burglary.
Bonilla has been charged with first-degree burglary, robbery with a dangerous weapon and larceny after breaking and entering. At the time of this article, he is being held in the Forsyth County Detention Center under a $175,000 secured bond.
Detectives are still actively working the case.
“Maybe this isn’t their first try, maybe they’re becoming more brazen,” Higgins said.
“If the neighbors are looking out for each other, that’s really the best defense,” said Mackenzie Calhoun, president of the Ardmore Neighborhood Watch.
Council member Dan Besse has planned a neighborhood meeting with residents, to be held on the 29th. At this meeting, residents will be able to discuss further options for keeping themselves safe.