Hand Guns Among Stolen Items in Rash of Car Break-Ins

Five guns are now in the wrong hands after police say they were stolen out of peoples' cars. Authorities say a group of criminals is hitting neighborhoods off Margaret Wallace road - near Independence Boulevard.

Guns, laptops, and GPS units are just a few of the things this group has been taking from cars over the past month. Cops say the biggest mistake people in the neighborhoods are making is keeping their doors unlocked.

In surveillance video taken from a residence in the area, you can see a group of people going into peoples’ driveways and checking car doors. Police say this group has hit around 20-30 cars in the Mint Hill - East Charlotte area over the past month.

"They're walking from neighborhood to neighborhood or have a vehicle traveling. They're walking, checking vehicles and removing items from unlocked cars," said Lt. Jeremiah Blow with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police.

Joe Siciliano, who lives in one of the affected neighborhoods, says his car was broken into twice.

"I left the car unlocked. Nothing visible. They went through everything. Took change, prescriptions, anything they could get a hand on. Even paperwork. Whatever they could take, they took," said Siciliano.

Now, the neighborhoods that have been hit along Margaret Wallace Road are taking a stand. The residents are working closely with police and taking matters into their own hands.

"We've installed some added security systems, some alarm systems, video camera systems, which i think is deterring people from coming into the neighborhood," said Mike Luther, Co-President of the Home Owner’s Association.

There have been some smash and grabs, but police say most of the break-ins happened when car doors were left unlocked.

"The bad guys we have on video, they're going to the car, if it's locked, they're bypassing it and going to the next vehicle. So, please lock your vehicles," said Lt. Blow.

That’s an easy solution, but Siciliano says it shouldn't have to be that way.

"I had one friend sell his house and lose 20 thousand dollars on it, just to get out of a bad area. People want to feel safe in their own neighborhood. If they can't, they're going to leave," said Siciliano.

Police say these car break-ins are happening in the middle of the night. Authorities say if you see anything out of the ordinary, you should call police.

CMPD is offering up to a thousand dollars in reward money to anyone who calls in - anonymously - with a tip that can help lead to an arrest.