RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Police swarmed Richmond's Museum District Monday night. They surprised and warned residents at the same time. Chief Bryan Norwood and his top officers walked Grove Avenue and nearby streets to alert people about a spike in car break-ins.
Often times when we cover these walks, they're focused on high crime areas. That's not exactly how you'd describe the Museum District, but with eleven car break-ins in recent weeks, police are sending a message.
The phrase "oh, that doesn't happen where I live" no longer applies to the Museum District. Monday night, a flurry of white shirts and top brass walked the usually quiet streets of the neighborhood.
Many told NBC12 they never thought they'd see so many officers at one time in an area where they feel safe.
Lesley Paiva feels safe but wasn't out of reach of someone's sticky fingers.
"Our car was parked out back and somebody took a rock in the middle of the night and broke one of the side windows and stole an iPod," she explained.
She's one of eleven victims this year. That's compared to only one theft during the same time last year.
"I think people were surprised that we had the problems that we did behind our house recently, because we haven't had problems like that before," she recalled.
Joe Sokohl gets the police department's message that residents are the first line of defense.
"It boggles my mind," he exclaimed. "It's just simple things. Don't leave junk in your car! It's so simple that I just don't understand why people just leave purses and iPods and computer bags in the back seat of their cars."
There's a positive spin to that.
"It's kind of encouraging in a way that they would leave things of value in their car it speaks to the safety that they feel in this part of town," explained Lt. Edward Capriglione.
But in recent weeks, that security has become a double-edged sword.
Police told NBC12 they believe this is just a wave and not a permanent trend. Once they make one or two arrests, the numbers will go back down.