Special Report: Major headaches from petty crimes

Investigating property crimes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If your car is stolen, the door of your house kicked in, you're the victim of embezzlement or insurance fraud - all these things are considered property crimes. They're non-violent, but irritating.

WBTV looked into property crime in Mecklenburg County. Numbers show more convictions are coming in than in recent past years, but the good guys sometimes say they're left feeling like justice isn't always fair.

"My sister lived here maybe six months before we had the break in," said 29-year-old Sarah Lucas. "Her ex-boyfriend broke into my home when my sister was living with me."

Lucas lives in east Charlotte. She says neighbors saw Frankie Shipman – the ex-boyfriend – open up her kitchen window and crawl right through.

A jury convicted Shipman of felony breaking and entering. He served thirty days, got 30 months probation and was supposed to pay Sarah 600-hundred dollars in restitution. That never happened. Sarah says she was supposed to provide receipts to prove the cost of what he took, but she wasn't aware that was her responsibility.

Sarah calls the whole process "a slap on the wrist."

"It's not fair," she said. "Feels like the system is in the criminal's favor."

WBTV talked with Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office about prosecuting property crimes. Assistant District Attorney Reed Hunt, who has been with the DA's office almost 11 years, says he understands the frustration.

"Your home is where you should feel safest," said Hunt. "But it's not uncommon for the same people to keep doing the same things over and over and though we punish them to the fullest extent we can, it often times doesn't feel like enough to the people who have are victims of their crimes."

He went on to say, "Because of sentencing laws, property crime convictions can't always result in long sentences, so we have to use the habitual breaking and entering law to target those who are repeat offenders."

Hunt is one of eleven assistant District Attorney's focusing on anywhere from 600 to 700 cases. Hunt attributes the higher conviction rates to more prosecutors working on clearing the cases and having more court time to deal with them.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.