Larceny-theft rates are increasing along with average daily temperatures in Chapel Hill as thieves take advantage of summertime complacency among vehicle owners.

According to Ran Northam, a municipal safety communications specialist, unsecured cars with conspicuous cargo are being targeted by burglars skulking through remote areas.

“Police officers are certainly doing their due diligence; they’re always out and about and looking through neighborhoods, but this really is a push to our residents and visitors of the area to do their part — to keep your doors locked, to keep your windows rolled up, hide your valuables,” he relayed.

A news release from the municipal government was issued last week that cites neighborhoods where mounting reports of unlawful vehicle entries are originating.

Those neighborhoods include Briarcliff, Colony Woods and Northside in addition to subdivisions in the vicinity of Erwin, Sage and Old Chapel Hill roads.

Northam stressed the importance of minimizing opportunities for criminals in those areas by removing valuables from vehicles and keeping all doors locked.

“Every once in a while, we’ll see one where a window is smashed or something like that, so, to keep your valuables wherever they are safest is certainly of the best bet, and, hopefully, if there’s nothing that somebody sees in a car, that they’ll keep walking right past it,” he emphasized.

The news release also states that most of the burgled vehicles in recent reports had been left unlocked with their costly contents sitting in plain sight.

Keeping those contents hidden may not always prevent theft, but Northam explained that a little bit of vigilance goes a long way toward deterring illegal activity.

“If somebody sees something, a suspicious condition, somebody peering into a vehicle [that] might not be yours, calling 911 is certainly always helpful; our officers can’t be everywhere at all times,” he explained.

The Chapel Hill Police Department governs a neighborhood watch program that promotes good security habits among residents and local awareness of illicit behavior.

Northam encouraged all members of the community to take advantage of that program and trust their instincts when sizing up ambiguous situations.

“We don’t have specific information that any of these are necessarily connected, but […] your gut is usually pretty strong; if you feel that something is not quite right, that somebody is going car-to-car and peering inside, that could be something that isn’t right,” he noted.

Residents are advised to call 919-932-2929 or contact for more information on the neighborhood watch program.