University City

Garage burglaries up in the UCity area

Police are urging University City residents to remain vigilant in keeping home garages secure after what they describe as a recent rash of burglaries.

Officer Chris Kopp, a community coordinator in the University City Division of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said there have been at least 10 reports of thefts from garages across University City during the past two weeks, as open garage doors are a tell-tale sign of the season change and warmer weather.

“That’s a big spike when you’ve had zero in the eight months prior,” Kopp said.

Most cases happen when garage doors are left open, though some detached garages have been broken into, Kopp said.

“In one case, one guy was mowing his lawn and (someone) took two bikes and left,” he said, noting the average garage burglary takes 15 seconds or less.

“It’s technically a residential burglary, the same as if someone kicked in a back door. Just because the door is open doesn’t lessen the crime, by any means.”

Bicycles are among the most frequently taken items, Kopp said. But one University City neighborhood that was experiencing a lot of bike thefts began calling police when they saw suspicious people they didn’t recognize, especially if they were on bicycles.

“We want to make sure the bikes aren’t stolen. … We’ve recovered (more than) half the bikes stolen so far,” he said. Kopp encouraged residents to call and report any suspicious person or activity.

Though garage burglaries are a citywide problem that police deal with every year, Kopp said, they are crimes of opportunity that are relatively easy to prevent.

Police suggest these measures to help reduce or prevent the likelihood of becoming the victim of garage burglary: