100-plus cars damaged in string of break-ins around Dilworth, South End

CHARLOTTE — Police are looking for thieves who targeted an apartment complex in Charlotte, smashing an entire parking deck of car windows. It’s one of at least three different locations just miles apart where cars were broken into.

Officers were called to Camden Dilworth on Kenilworth Avenue between Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning. Items inside some of the cars were also reported missing.

On Wednesday, police said they had arrested a juvenile, one of three suspects in the case. They were able to tie the case to another set of car break-ins, where more than 80 cars were broken into in the Myers Park and SouthPark neighborhoods.

According to police reports, more than 90 cars at Camden Dilworth were broken into.

About 2 miles away on South Boulevard, police reports say 20 cars were broken into at Selene at Southline apartment complex on Sunday. That’s a total of more than 100 cars in the neighborhood within a two-day period.

A Channel 9 viewer sent video that showed people who live at the Camden apartments surveying the damage left behind.

“You just see sparkling everywhere,” Thomas Bennett told Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis. “It looked like diamonds, but it’s all just shattered glass.”

A week before Christmas and all through the parking garage, sparkling glass was not a mirage. The vandals broke into Bennett’s brand new car.

“The video showed them hoisting someone over the gate -- they climbed over the gate,” Bennett said.

According to the police reports, nothing of high value was taken from any of the cars. They list items like clothing and glasses, for example. Bennett said the only thing taken from his car was a pair of old AirPods.

“To break out all the windows and the moonroof, you’re making a statement and just being a terrible person,” he said.

Atrium Health

A spokesperson for Atrium Health said the nearby hospital also had reports of break-ins at their parking deck overnight Sunday.

“We have deployed additional resources to help with this unfortunate issue and are working with local law enforcement to help identify who may be responsible,” the spokesperson said.

“I feel for the people for the people at the hospital that were patients themselves, or visiting a patient or a healthcare professional,” Bennett said.

Channel 9’s Hunter Sáenz learned several guns were stolen out of cars at the parking deck.

Police haven’t said whether the break-ins at Atrium are connected to the others nearby; they’re still working to connect the dots. Sáenz learned at least nine cars were smashed into at the parking deck.

Many of the victims were targeted at their most vulnerable time as they visited relatives inside the hospital, some of whom are fighting for their lives.

“It’s a sick situation,” one victim told Sáenz over the phone.

She was here visiting her boyfriend who is on a ventilator with COVID-19. When she walked out to leave, she found her back window busted out of her truck.

“We’re at one of our lowest spots,” she said. “We’re up there begging for their last breath, while you’re out here crashing and stealing and trying to make money off people.”

Only a pair of headphones were stolen from her truck, but police reports show in other cars that were smashed into, thieves took off with three guns. Those include two pistols and an AR-style weapon.

“They need to seek God and they need to seek him fast,” the victim said.

No arrests have been made in that case yet.

Selene at Southline

Michael Hurt’s car was one of 17 that was hit while it was parked in the deck at the Selene at Southline.

“For them to do as much as they did in such a short time, it obviously was pretty coordinated,” Hurt said.

His girlfriend was a victim too.

“She went to the car and called me and said, ‘Your car’s been broken into,’” Hurt said. “As soon as she got off the phone with me, she realized her car had been broken into, too.”

Hurt is now working with his insurance on repairs.

“My window was fully smashed back there, and it looks like they tried to break into that one since it’s a little bit fractured,” Hurt said.

It appeared all the cars targeted were parked on the deck’s upper level.

“For them to go all the way up to the fifth, it takes a level of confidence to go up that high,” Hurt said. “It’s frustrating not to have a motive or anything.”

Camden Dilworth told Genevieve Curtis that they had given their surveillance video to the police. Curtis has requested that video from investigators.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told Channel it is actively investigating the break-ins. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

(WATCH BELOW: Armed shop owner stops smash-and-grab at south Charlotte jewelry store)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

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