Spouses at private military housing, shaken up by car break-ins, petition for security cameras


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side investigates a series of break-ins and vandalism in private military housing. The culprits are coming in the dark of night and stealing from people’s cars.

We’ve been following problems with conditions inside the homes in private military communities, but this time it’s out on the streets and right in their driveways. Shaken wives and mothers tell us they can’t use a key weapon to stop the theft and damage — but the property management company says that’s simply not true.

Vehicles in the streets and driveways in Norwich Manor have become targets.

“They took my whole wallet, and my car was locked,” said resident Lauren Nelson. “There was some damage to where they must have jimmied the door open.”

She’s one of several military wives living in fear.

“They took my debit cards, credit cards, insurance cards.”

Their privacy violated — and not just the parents.

“They took a pair of my daughter’s shoes.”

A neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous has lived here for three summers. Her car was broken into last year.

“And then this summer, it just kind of exploded,” the woman said.

Nelson described where the cars were parked that were vandalized.

“Six or seven on (Kings Lynn Drive) alone, then on the next street over, and the next street after that, and then over in (a neighboring military community) Ben Moreell all in one night.”

10 On Your Side obtained crime data in Norwich Manor from the Norfolk Police Department that shows 15 incidents have been reported in the last year, mostly thefts from cars.

In one case last month, the back window of a car was smashed and 11 cars were broken into on a single June night.

“My friend’s Jeep was broken into and they actually shattered out the back window to get in, so I think they are kind of escalating,” Nelson said.

Nelson started a petition, asking property manager Lincoln Military Housing to install neighborhood security cameras on street posts, or allow residents to install their own.

But Lincoln says it has no outright ban on cameras in its communities, and pointed us to a nearby Lincoln community where they are already in use.

Their home office gave us this statement:

“Lincoln has not and does not object to the installation of security cameras by residents as long as they comply with state and local privacy restrictions and are not in a place where they could record sensitive military installation facilities, personnel or procedures.”

Nelson says she was getting a different, conflicting message from her local office when she asked whether residents could have security cameras.

“No because of this or no because of that. It’s just always no.”

She and her neighbors tell us cameras would help them regain their peace of mind.

“It’s still a private space that somebody just rampaged through, and I know this is a little extreme, but it seems like someone went through my life,” one resident said.

Lincoln says it is exploring the idea of community security cameras, and has brought that concern to the Navy, although it will require further discussion.

Navy Region Mid-Atlantic said it is “committed to the health, security, and safety of our military personnel and their families in military housing,” and continues to coordinate very closely with Lincoln Military Housing in ensuring that military support is available.

The Navy says Norfolk Police have primary law enforcement responsibility in the neighborhood, and Lincoln Military Housing has a courtesy patrol, Signal 88, that patrols the neighborhoods. Lincoln says Signal 88 is “an unarmed courtesy patrol – to deter, observe, and report any suspicious activity, etc. to local authorities and Lincoln Military Housing.”

Both the Navy and Lincoln say when residents discover any crime, they should first contact Norfolk Police.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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