Like others on James Island, Jim Palmer is worried about a recent rash of burglaries that has resulted in televisions, cameras, jewelry, stereos and other items of value being stolen.
During the day when residents are most likely at work, someone knocks on the front door, and if no one answers, the criminal kicks in the back door.
"That's scary, and it's everywhere. It's not just one specific area of the island," Palmer said.
A meeting this week about the break-ins drew more than 100 people and was standing-room only, said Palmer, who is a code enforcement officer with the town of James Island.
"There are a lot of people concerned," he said.
Police are making progress in their investigation. A search at a house on Stefan Drive resulted in property being recovered from a burglary on Teal Avenue. Another police search at an address on Waterloo Street led to the recovery of property taken from Portabello Lane, said Charleston Police Lt. Charles Hawkins.
Three or four teams of thieves are at work on the island. "We've got some suspects," Hawkins said.
Charleston police have investigated 15 burglaries on James Island since the beginning of August. "That's a major problem for us," Hawkins said.
The Charleston County Sheriff's Office has investigated 24 burglaries on the island since Aug. 1. Both police agencies said residents need to be watchful of their neighborhoods, report strangers or unusual activity and register the serial number on their electronics so they can be identified when recovered.
Investigators are combing the area, stopping cars and talking to people in their yards. Some of the burglaries are "heartbreaking" because a ring or family heirloom is stolen that has more sentimental than street value, said sheriff's Maj. Tom Honan.
Residents and police working together is key to stopping the crimes. "All of these things combined will result in a break," Honan said.
A flier distributed at a Town Hall meeting of residents this week said, "There has been an influx of home break-ins, robberies and physical attacks on homeowners since May 21 through Sept. 5 at Clarks Point, Lawton Bluff, Dills Bluff, Harbor Woods, Camp Road, Willow Creek and many other subdivisions."
Thieves kicked in the front door of Eileen Lentz's house in the Wexford Sound subdivision on Wednesday morning while she was at a doctor's appointment. They stole two laptop computers.
Lentz speculated that she surprised the burglars because they left behind the laptop power cords.
Lentz left for her doctor's appointment at 9:45 a.m. When she returned at 11:15 a.m., she saw the back screen porch door open. Inside, a liquor cabinet and the TV cabinet were open.
"It was just a shambles," she said of the scene.
A neighbor said he saw a black man in a white shirt run through her side yard into some woods.
The resident of a Harbortowne Road house that was burglarized told a deputy that somebody kicked in the back door after 8 p.m. and took two flat-screen televisions, a laptop, about $10,000 worth of jewelry and a semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun.
Neighbors reported seeing three black men in an older blue Oldsmobile and a young black man riding a gray bike in the area, according to the incident report.
In another case, a burglar kicked in a back door during the daytime. A Relyea Avenue resident reported a burglary Aug. 26. He told deputies that when he got home from work about 4:30 p.m., he found his back door had been kicked in and somebody had rifled through his house, according to the incident report.
Items reported stolen included a 58-inch flat-screen TV, stereo system, cell phone and a camera and lenses. The value of the stolen items was estimated at $4,450 and damage to the door at $500.
In another case, robbers entered through unlocked doors. A Dills Bluff Road resident reported a burglary, telling a deputy that he left the house at 8 a.m. and found he had been burglarized when he returned home about 1 p.m.
The burglar apparently entered through unlocked garage doors. The resident said all the rooms had been rifled through. Stolen items included a 37-inch flat-screen TV and a laptop computer and 17-inch monitor.
A witness told the deputy he saw three young black men running away from the house toward Seaside Lane carrying several bags.
Break-ins also were reported on Teliaferro Drive, Winborn Drive and Fort Johnson Road.