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Police: N.C. Sting May Cut Down on Thefts

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ? Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Sunday that a recent sting, which netted a major auto theft ring, may dramatically reduce the city's incidences of car break-ins.

During last week's state of the city address, police admitted that auto theft was becoming a serious problem. They said they believe the four suspects arrested Saturday were specifically targeting Hondas and may be responsible for dozens of car thefts in the area.

Victims of such crimes, like Charlotte resident Bryan Rothwell, say the break-ins are not surprising.

"Someone had broken out the back window and they took the stereo and a couple other things I had in my car," Rothwell said. "This was the second time."

Police said break-ins are a growing problem.

Over the past months, many people have become victims of such crimes. In fact, police cited a 40 percent increase in auto thefts across the country.

Detectives said the department is working to lower the number of auto thefts in the area, but that they need help from car owners.

"We've had an increase like you wouldn't believe," said David Clayton, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's auto theft unit.

"We believe it's like when you get like two or more kids together or young adults and they all decide to go out and still a car a piece each night, of course our numbers are going to go through the roof."

But some officers, like Captain Earl Mathis, said it is up to the car owners to protect themselves.

"A lot of vehicles are stolen as a result of people leaving their cars unlocked leaving them running and leaving keys in the vehicle itself," he said.

It will take time before police can gauge whether this weekend's arrests will put a dent in auto thefts. In the meantime, they said they hope that increased driver vigilance will curb the growing problem.

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