South Charlotte crime numbers may be declining

After a third quarter in which the south Charlotte area saw a spike in thefts from cars, South Division Capt. Jim Wilson said he’s hoping to end the year with an overall reduction in crime.

“We’re still recovering from a disastrous third quarter,” Wilson said. “We saw larceny from autos on a scale that I haven’t seen in my five years in the South Division, and a majority of them were unlocked cars.”

From July 1-Sept. 28, police saw a 54 percent increase, from 142 to 218, in larceny-from-auto incidents when compared to the same period last year.

Wilson said he recalls one week during the third quarter when the division had 25 larceny-from-auto incidents; 23 involved unlocked cars.

“A large amount of our focus is on larceny from autos and residential burglaries, which generally make up about 50 percent of crime in South Division,” he said.

The 57-square-mile division Wilson oversees is home to 147,000 residents and extends south from Fairview Road between Pineville and Matthews. There are 92 police officers who patrol that area.

Wilson said the fourth quarter so far has been “fantastic,” with many of the crime statistcs remaining flat or decreasing compared to the same time last year.

He also said commercial burglaries are up 18 percent ,from 11 to 13, and auto thefts increased from five to eight, compared to last year.

“Robberies are up slightly, but they’re not the kind of random robberies. Most of them have been strong-arms, where physical force was used,” Wilson said.

He said robberies this quarter have increased from two to four, compared to last year.

Here’s how incidents from Jan. 1-Nov. 30 this year compare to incidents during the same period last year:

• Homicides are up, from one to four.

• Robberies are up 17 percent, from 30 to 35.

• Aggravated assaults are up 2 percent, from 41 to 42.

• Assault with a deadly weapon incidents involving a gun increased from six to nine.

• Commercial burglaries are up 3 percent, from 65 to 67.

• Auto thefts are up 36 percent, from 36 to 49.

• Personal robberies are up 12 percent, from 25 to 28.

• Total arrests are up 4 percent, from 663 to 691.

Wilson said one of the four homicides remains unsolved. In February, 82-year-old Ina Feldman was found dead in her south Charlotte townhouse off Carmel Road.

“We’re doing a thorough review of the case, but nobody has been charged,” Wilson said.

He said residents can help reduce crime by being vigilant throughout the holiday season. He suggested residents put shopping bags in the trunk of their car and be aware of who’s around when walking to their car.

He also recommended residents have a security plan before they go out of town for the holidays. He said families going on vacation can put lights, TVs and radios on timers to make it appear they’re home.

He also suggested families tell their neighbors when they’re out of town so the neighbors can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

“Pay attention to who’s in your neighborhood. If you see someone who looks out of place and looks suspicious, call us,” he said.

Wilson said his division also will maintain a presence in such south-Charlotte shopping complexes as the Arboretum and Blakeney Shopping Center. “That way, if someone is up to no good, they’ll know that there’s a police presence in the area,” he said.

Wilson said he’s hopeful the crime prevention strategies will help the division earn its sixth straight year of crime reductions. Last year, the division ranked ninth in the department for overall crime reduction.

“We hope to continue the success we’ve had the last several years,” said Wilson. “It really says something to the efforts of the officers and the community.”