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Open Letter from an Auto Theft Investigator

You Can Make A Difference!

Not too many years ago, most of our cars were stolen by using a key that was left in the vehicle. Now many of our suspects use a screwdriver or dent-puller to "pop" the ignition. Many of our vehicle thefts occurred during the winter months when citizens left the keys in the car as they were "warming them up". A favorite target was apartment complexes where a juvenile could have more selection and opportunity to take a vehicle.

Auto thefts in Charlotte have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years. More than ever, we recognize that the theft problem here is not going to be solved by the police alone. We absolutely need the community's help in reducing the number of thefts.

One of the first things many of us have to understand is that we can not be complacent because we have insurance. Most of us have deductibles that have to be paid. Another valuable commodity (i.e. your time) is lost when your vehicle is stolen. It takes time to find temporary transportation, time to deal and negotiate with the insurance company, time to pick up and return a rental vehicle, and in some cases, time to go to court.

Not everyone who gets their vehicle back feels like the vehicle is in the same condition as when it was stolen. Many times a victim will not be able to recoup all the vehicle content losses such as money or firearms. Some damage can not be detected initially such as damage to the transmission and engine. Getting back in your car after it has been driven and probably abused by someone else can be a little unsettling.

Car theft is often a stepping stone to other crime. Juveniles who steal a vehicle are almost always inexperienced and, in reality, just plain dangerous behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle. More and more citizens are leaving firearms in their vehicles and they become an incentive and tool of new crimes--armed robbery. Rather than steal gas , a suspect will commit an armed robbery either of a business or individual to get gas money. Our city becomes a little more unsafe every time a vehicle is stolen.

What You Can Do to Help