‘It makes us feel very unsafe’: Suspect spotted on camera attempting to break into homes in south Charlotte

They all have one thing in common; the target appears to be homes along the golf course or near it.
WBTV has been investigating the problem for months.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 7:53 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 7:47 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Thieves from South America are being blamed for a rash of high-end home break-ins in Charlotte.

WBTV has been investigating the problem for months. Several of the break-ins have been in the Ballantyne and Piper Glen areas, and new documents obtained by WBTV show police believe either Colombian or Chilean groups are behind some of the operations.

They all have one thing in common; the target appears to be homes along the golf course or near it.

Recent incidents in the Providence Country Club community were all caught on home surveillance cameras. Neighbors agreed to talk to WBTV but didn’t want to reveal their identity over safety concerns.

“It makes us feel very unsafe,” said one neighbor, as she referenced a video of a suspect creeping outside her home and other neighbors.

“An all black and white image in a ski mask and that freaks you out, it’s not what you’re expecting,” said Sam.

This happened exactly a week ago on April 18 just before 5 a.m. at Providence Country Club. One neighbor looks back through his security cameras daily and noticed a person in his yard and others during the overnight hours.

The recent incidents here were all caught on home surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.
The recent incidents here were all caught on home surveillance cameras in the neighborhood.(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)

“Typically, I see birds, mots, and spiders and things like that, maybe a raccoon or deer, yeah, so it was the first time I’ve seen that,” Sam said.

“I don’t know of any official break-ins, but there definitely was surveillance activity and trying door handles and car door handles,” another neighbor said.

The person appeared to be alone so some suspect their homes were being scouted for potential break-ins. This is a common report to CMPD, according to the documents obtained.

“The person definitely seemed to know what they were doing, they had on dark clothing, a full-face mask, head covered,” the neighbor added. “You couldn’t see any skin, gloves on, backpack, definitely confident enough to jump fences and know that cameras were taking him and confident in knowing the camera wouldn’t be able to identify him.”

Police said when break-ins happen, the thieves are often in and out within 5 to 10 minutes.

Investigators said the thieves go after items that can’t be tracked like jewelry, watches, guns, cash, safes, or high-end purses.

People in this community believe the motion lights are a good deterrent.

“Lighting really helps, so motion detection lights are great because they come on, stay on for 3-5 minutes and it really deter people from snooping around when those lights are on whether someone is home or not,” Sam added.

Since the incident last week, neighbors have installed more lighting and security cameras around their homes in the Providence Country Club Neighborhood.

“The takeaway for me and what I think should be for everyone, you have door locks, use them. Make sure all of your doors are locked. Do your round before going to bed, enable your security alarms,” neighbors added.

Advice from neighbors and CMPD: do a daily check of your camera, and keep them clean of dust and spider webs. People should also make sure their doors are locked, windows are locked, and notify a trusted neighbor when out of town.

In this incident, neighbors only knew someone was creeping around their home after one guy spotted it on his cameras.

Police are telling neighbors these groups are often targeting master bedrooms, and the suspects use landscape items to smash their way in.

Police believe in some cases, they are even using cell phone jammers, but not in every case.