CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As the economy rebounds in Charlotte, more and more subdivisions are building out. Police say thieves are targeting some of the brand new houses for appliances.
Lt Jim Morrison of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police said, "Generally what we're seeing, the houses when they're slated for closing - could be a few days to a week before the closing actually happens - that's when they're putting in the appliances. That's when they're being targeted."
Police said the thefts are happening in neighborhoods across the city. They believe the burglars are casing subdivisions for newly constructed houses that appear ready to be moved in. Using box trucks, vans or pick up trucks, the thieves tend to strike after hours or weekends when contractors are gone.
"Sometimes they're kicking in doors, sometimes unlocked doors or windows, sometimes we don't see any damage at all" Lt Morrison said.
During the month of November, several brand new houses were burglarized in the Stafford subdivision in the University City area.
According to police reports, sometime between November 6 and November 9 someone broke into two houses by forcing open the garage doors, and then stole a $900 stainless steel electric stove, a $800 stainless microwave, and a washer and dryer priced at $1,500.
Police said during that same time, a $900 stainless steel electric stove and a $500 stainless dishwasher were stolen from another two houses under construction.
Then two weeks later on November 22, a $200 microwave went missing from another house under construction.
And sometime between November 27 and November 30, thieves struck again in houses under construction. Police say they stole a $400 dishwasher, a $700 stove, and $350 microwave.
"Somebody's watching," said Lt. Morrison. "These people that steal appliances - they're good at it. That's what they do - drive the neighborhoods, watch for when houses seem like they're getting to a certain point where they know the appliances are going to be in them."
Police are urging residents to be watchful in neighborhoods with lots of housing construction.
"If you see people out there after hours or the weekend, especially if you see anybody backed up in the carport or the garage where it looks like they could be loading appliances - call 911 and have us come out and check them out."
Kimberly Tanner doesn't need to hear that twice.
"Prior to us purchasing the home, they told us someone had broken in the back window," she said. "So they evidently just went up the back and broke the window and went out the door with the appliances."
That happened eight years ago when the Tanners first moved in to the Stafford subdivision.
She's not surprised to hear it has happened again.
"That's just the way of the world," she said. "People think they deserve something that isn't theirs. And they're just going to take it when they see something."
Lt Morrison said thefts of appliances were a problem years ago but when the housing market dipped and developers stopped building - there was a lull in the crimes.
"Now that the economy is coming back and a lot more houses are being built - we're seeing where it's increasing" he said.
Investigators said they're working with developers to catch the thieves.
But, where are the stolen appliances going?
Police said they're still searching.
"Even ones with serial numbers we're not seeing them hitting the places where you'd expect them to go," Lt. Morrison said.
Investigators suspect thieves are selling the stolen appliances to people on the street, or they probably have outlets in other states.