South Charlotte starts 2013 with spike in car break-ins

Police throughout south Charlotte routinely send out the same warning to area residents: lock your car doors, hide your valuables, stop tempting criminals with your belongings. But the message isn’t getting through, as shown by the jump in car break-ins so far in 2013.

The south Charlotte area, roughly from Cotswold and SouthPark south to the state line, saw car break-ins spike from the 60 incidents seen last January and early February to already 103 this year. In many of the cases, police say drivers are leaving their vehicles unlocked, making an easy target for someone to simply walk through a neighborhood pulling on door handles. That was the case in the area around Cotswold and SouthPark last month, where 30 vehicles were broken into.

Of those, 24 of the vehicles were unlocked, according to police, with four laptops, two GPS units, six iPods, three wallets and a gun stolen, among other possessions. Almost all the items were left in plain sight, police said.

Items left out in the open also contributed to a string of break-ins in the Providence Park apartment complex, police said, where a number of windows were smashed.

In part of south Charlotte, officers are now putting out a “Don’t Be A Victim” banner in neighborhoods recently hit by car break-ins in hope of reminding residents to lock up and hide valuables.

“Anytime we have a spree, three or more cars broken into, (we) go and put the banner up in front of the neighborhood and an officer stands out there passing out crime prevention information and meeting residents,” said Capt. James Wilson, who leads the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s South Division.

Police hope one recent arrest will help their efforts. Macieo White, 19, was arrested on Feb. 5 in the Cotswold area and charged with breaking into cars in Cotswold and Foxcroft. White has been arrested numerous times over the past two years for breaking into vehicles and homes. He’s currently listed as an inmate at the Mecklenburg County jail and is being held under a $17,500 bond.

Police remind anyone who sees a suspicious person in their neighborhood to call 911, and an officer will come check on the situation.

To see what police division you are located in, and to sign up for crime alert emails and monthly newsletters from your response area, visit the police department’s website, http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD, and click on the “Our Response Areas” link and pick either Providence Division or South Division.

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