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Apartments near Duke add off-duty MPs to patrols after second home invasion

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DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — More security officers have been added to patrols at the Belmont Apartments after the complex was hit a second home invasion last month.

Durham Police said they are investigating another home invasion that took place at the complex on McQueen Drive off Lasalle Street, which is less than a mile from Duke University.

According to police, one of the residents was entering his apartment when a man approached him from behind and forced him into an apartment at gunpoint.

CBS 17 received the victim’s call to Durham 911.

“There was this guy who came up with a gun and then put me on the floor,” the caller told the 911 operator. “Then he called another guy, they both came in and ransacked the whole apartment.”

The caller said his roommate got home about 30 minutes later while the suspects were still at the apartment.

“Half an hour later my roommate came in. When he came in, they put him on the floor too,” the 911 caller said.

The caller said they were held for 90 minutes when the suspect stole their PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and other valuables.

According to police and officers at the home, the suspects were described as two men in their late teens or early 20s, both wearing ski masks.

Belmont Apartments officials said in an email to residents that the description is similar to those of the suspects involved in the other home invasion at their complex last month.

On February 5, five people were held in an apartment at Belmont Apartments after a gunman accosted three people in the parking lot as they walked towards their apartment.

The victim told CBS 17 the suspect pushed her inside, where two other people became victims. The victim said the suspects forced everyone to sit in different parts of the apartment while the suspects stole their bank account information.

The victim told CBS 17 that they were also detained for 90 minutes.

Durham Police said they were investigating to see if any of the robberies were related.

Many of the complex’s residents attend Duke University, and some told CBS 17 they are concerned for their safety.

“It really shook me,” said Damodar Bihani, a Duke student who lives at the Belmont Apartments. “I’m just surprised that happened twice in one month.”

CBS 17 received an email sent by Belmont Apartments to residents the day after the home invasion. Some students asked why the apartment complex waited a day before notifying residents.

They also questioned why Durham Police did not notify residents immediately.

“These suspects are becoming more comfortable and aggressive,” said Shyamal Anadkat, a Duke student and resident of Belmont Apartments. “You walk to and from campus. You think everything is fine, and then you come home with it. It’s not a good environment.”

Officials at the Belmont Apartments tell CBS 17 they’ve increased their security measures, going from having two security guards from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to now four security guards.

In addition, officials at the complex said they now have an off-duty deputy sheriff patrolling the complex overnight.

An email from the housing office said security forces were targeting specific areas of the complex. Belmont officials said they will also begin checking for access cards at the front gate and they will begin escorting residents.

Duke University said they are also working with Belmont Apartments and other off-campus apartments to ensure they have updated their security cameras and that they have adequate fencing in place.

The students told CBS 17 they hope it will make a difference, as some cannot afford to move.

“It’s not something you should go through when you’re here for study and you’re busy with your semester and there’s a lot of things going on,” Anadkat said. “They try, but I feel like sometimes they react very late.”

Since February, the Durham Police Department has announced that it has held both in-person and virtual safety meetings with The Belmont and the surrounding apartment complexes. Police officials said they also distributed flyers at those apartments warning them to be aware of their surroundings.

Duke and Durham police have also increased patrols in the area.

According to the latest data from the Durham Township Crime Map, there have been at least 32 robberies within a five mile radius of the Belmont Apartments since February 2021.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/durham-county-news/apartments-near-duke-add-off-duty-deputies-to-patrols-after-2nd-home-invasion/ Apartments near Duke add off-duty MPs to patrols after second home invasion

DUSTIN JONES

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