CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Car thefts are a crime of opportunity, Charlotte Mecklenburg police say, and they’re warning neighbors to take their keys and keep doors locked after seeing a spike in 2018.
That frame of thinking was on full display at a 7-Eleven in south Charlotte.
Video shows a man park his car, but leave it on while he runs into the gas station. About a minute later, another man drives off with the vehicle.
“The majority of the auto thefts are occurring at gas stations,” CMPD Captain Christian Wagner said.
This is the type of crime police continue to shed light on. It comes after year end crime stats detail the increase in stolen cars.
“Last year we saw a 12 percent increase in overall vehicle thefts with a little less than 2800 vehicles taken in our jurisdiction,” said Wagner.
To dig deeper, CMPD says 11 of 13 patrol zones saw increases in car thefts. The South Division saw the largest increase-- 46 percent of cars stolen were recovered, and they cleared 18 percent of all auto thefts by arrest, which is over the national average at 12 percent.
CMPD says they've stepped up patrols in high volume areas. As an example, they’ve partnered with gas stations for promos that give free coffee if you show the clerk your keys.
But police add that they want you to take responsibility too, by doing the simple things to help prevent your car from being stolen
“Please take your keys in. Take your property in and lock your cars," Wagner said.