CMPD tries new approach to stop car break-ins

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has tried nearly everything to stop car break-ins across the Queen city.

They have educated the public, passed out fliers to warn thieves to stay away, and stepped up patrols when they see a crime trend.

But the numbers still show car break-ins are a big problem.  At least 35 people in Mecklenburg County have their vehicles broken into daily.  It's a hassle and frustration for the car owner, and for police who must process countless reports.

Xan Sanders says it happened to him last year when thieves broke into his work van. "They took all my power tools, electronic equipment and probably $2,000 worth of stuff," he said.

Now he never leaves anything in his car. It's a lesson police want other people to learn before the next crime.

Now, they're teaming up with local apartment complexes and SouthPark Mall to pay the public. It's a new approach CMPD Sgt. Fred Newell is trying in the Providence Division where he assigned.

Newell says the program works like this.  Officers will patrol partnering apartment complexes and write down tag numbers of those cars they see with no valuables inside.  Periodically, a name will be drawn and that car owner wins a prize.

Don Levison's neighbor won last month in Strawberry Hill.

"That's a good way to draw attention to the issue," he said. Levison also joked that he wished his car had nothing in it that day.

It's an extra incentive to make people more aware that they can control their odds of being a victim.

Sanders says, people shouldn't have to be paid to protect their own property, but police are hoping it works as a reminder.

Police also recommend locking car doors, parking in well lit areas, and at least put valuables in the trunk and out of plain sight.