Havelock - In the shadow of one of the region's most secure military bases, dozens of Marine wives no longer feel safe when their husbands are deployed. Robberies targeting Havelock's Slocum Village have created an air of vulnerability, as well as a frantic search for a solution.
"It was a surreal moment when I heard someone break into my home, and walk straight through it," said a Marine wife who asked to be called Sally. "I have children, we were sleeping upstairs and my husband had just left for work on base."
Slocum Village is home to only military families, adjacent to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock. Over the past month, at least five streets have been targeted by thieves, according to police and neighborhood accounts.
In the latest string of incidents, between Oct. 4 and Oct. 8 on Nandina Lane, thousands of dollars in military gear, equipment and electronics were taken from homes along the street. The information was released on a flier published by the Havelock Police Department, posted on homes throughout the neighborhood.
Late-night crime in the area has also hit cars, parked under bright street lights across the community.
"All four of my husband's tires were removed, and put on blocks," said a Marine wife identified as Christina. "First I felt panic, and then I had to try to explain to my kids why someone would try to do this."
The community took steps to combat the problem this week, starting a community watch group that operates through Facebook. The Slocum Village neighborhood watch now has a page on the social media site, visible only to residents. Incidents can instantly be reported, with alerts sent to members' cell phones.
"When you see an alert on your phone at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., you know something could be going on near your house," Sally said in an interview Tuesday. "It's a step in the right direction to put us ahead of criminals."
Groups of Marines have also started to walk the streets at night, looking for anyone fleeing the scene of a robbery. Havlock Police have also committed to stepped-up patrols.
"I have noticed more night patrols by Havelock P.D.," said Christina. "But I don't feel safe because this keeps on happening. My husband, three kids and I are moving."
Anyone with information concerning Slocum Village thefts is encouraged to call the Havelock Police Department at (252) 447-3212. All tips may be submitted anonymously.