If you visit a Quick Trip convenience store during morning rush hour on Tuesday, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer might ask you to show your car keys – and if you can do that, you’ll get a free coffee or soda, the police department announced Wednesday.
The free drinks are part of CMPD’s campaign to get people to lock their cars, because car theft has spiked in the new year, police said.
Thieves know that you’re more likely to leave your car unlocked if it’s only out of sight for a moment – at a convenience store, for example – so they target those locations, CMPD Capt. Jonathan Thomas said.
“People are looking for people who are gassing up, walking from their car, (going) inside to pay or use the restroom. They jump in the car and they’ve got a stolen car,” he said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
About 31 percent more cars have been stolen so far this year compared to this time in 2017, Thomas said. And of the 238 cars stolen so far this month, more than a third were stolen while the keys were inside.
Thomas said part of the issue is people leaving cars on to warm up on cold days, but he said too many people just keep an extra key inside their cars for convenience.
“It’s creating this market of stolen cars for us that they’re stealing and then once again going out and either stealing more cars, break into homes, commit robberies,” he said.
Police have arrested dozens of people involved in the car thefts, and many are younger than 16, Thomas said.
While police are able to recover about three quarters of the stolen cars, some of them come back in terrible condition, Thomas said.
Five Quick Trips will offer free drinks if you’ve locked your car between 6:30-8:30 a.m. Tuesday: 4937 Sunset Road., 6721 Albemarle Road., 3025 Wilkinson Blvd., 116 Clanton Road., and 2326 Sandy Porter Road., police said.