HAMPTON — Police are working with law enforcement in other communities to see if a rash of local car break-ins over the weekend might be linked to others in the region.
“We’re looking at the possibility of the larger issue throughout New England,” said Hampton Deputy Police Chief Alex Reno. “A number of communities in a number of different states have experienced a rash of similar thefts.”
According to Reno, between midnight and 4 a.m. on Nov. 26, owners of more than two dozen parked unlocked vehicles in what is known as the North Shore section of Hampton reported their vehicles had been broken into and items stolen. The neighborhoods involved include Mace Road, Milbern Avenue, Vanderpool Drive, Blake Lane, Esker Road, Emerald Avenue and other areas in that section of town, he said.
In addition, Reno said, Hampton police received the report of one vehicle being stolen from the same area.
The common aspect to the crimes in Hampton and other communities is the vehicles were all unlocked, he said.
“Smashing a car window is going to make noise and attract attention, while just opening a car door is easier,” Reno said. “The best advice we can give is to lock your vehicles; don’t keep valuables or keys in your cars. And don’t keep firearms or weapons in your cars. If they’re stolen and end up being involved in a crime, you could be implicated.”
During the Christmas shopping season when vehicles may hold gifts, vehicles should always be locked whenever unoccupied, he said. Gifts, valuables, keys and weapons should always be removed once home, and vehicles secured.
Reno said Hampton police detectives began working on the case upon receiving the reports. As they looked into the crimes, they found a prevalence of similar reported instances in New England.
“Some of the other communities have been dealing with this for a while, so our detectives are reaching out,” he said. “We don’t know if this is a copy-cat situation, or if it’s an organized effort by one gang.”
Reno said the investigation discovered evidence that lead police to believe one or more suspects may have a weapon.
“We encourage residents not to engage any suspects that they believe to be breaking into their vehicles,” Reno said. “We urge any suspicious behavior to be immediately called into the Police Department and allow our officers to respond and investigate the activity.”
Hampton police are also asking the public to review any home security video footage they may have to see if it may have caught sight of thefts being committed, even if their vehicles were not entered. Police recommend residents check their vehicles carefully for evidence of break-in or theft, and to ensure car license plates were not stolen and are still attached to vehicles.
Photos of a person of interest were circulated by Hampton police. Anyone who recognizes the individual, or with any information regarding these incidents are urged to contact the Hampton Police Department at 603-929-4444.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Hampton NH police: 20-plus car break-ins and one vehicle stolen