CHARLOTTE, N.C. - After a spike in burglaries, people in an east Charlotte neighborhood decided they'd had enough.
They worked with police who also used new and improved tactics to reduce the crimes by 20 percent in just one year.
Anchor Scott Wickersham went on patrol with officers in the Independence division to find out what they're doing differently that you can do where you live.
“Any more it's gone crazy, you are scared to leave your house,” Yank Murphy said.
He and a group of neighbors decided to do something about it, knowing they couldn't expect police to do it all.
“This is my home. This is where I live. The officers will only be as productive as I put my time in,” Betty Shropshire said.
She decided it was time to get to know her neighbors and become nosey.
She had a barbecue and invited neighbors and her community police officer.
Following that officer's recommendations, they all agreed to start reporting any suspicious behavior and to question people on the streets who looked out of place.
They started getting serious about some things that may seem obvious:
- Never allow people you don't know into your home.
- Keep doors and windows locked and valuables hidden.
- Close your garage door.
- Light up your yard.
- Have someone pick up your mail when you're gone.
Their efforts helped cut break-ins 20 percent this year and are helping police catch more suspects, mostly local teenagers familiar with the back trails and woods.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department brought in its own tools to help in that fight, using dirt bikes the city got during the Democratic National Convention to hunt suspects where they hide, creating a burglary suppression unit that's mobile.
Lt. Jeremiah Blow said it's made a big difference.
"We’ve had multiple suspects during interviews comment that the motorcycles are everywhere. We see them in the woods. We see them behind houses,” Blow said.
Detective C.B. Helms encouraged neighbors to join social websites like Next Door that enable instant communication and crime alerts.
He warns social media can also be the enemy.
Kids who post a new iPad or expensive sneakers on Twitter can become a target.
“They'll go break in his window, know where his room is, just to take his shoes. Don't advertise because someone might just come shopping at your house,” Helms said.
Neighbors said it’s creating a better sense of community and a safer community.
“We are slowing it down. We're talking more to one another and watching out for one another,” Pat Hornsby said.
A last bit of advice: Officers said you need to write down the serial numbers of valuable items and take pictures.
Without that, it's much harder to get your stolen items back.
CMPD has more advice on how to prevent burglaries and other crime at your home.
CLICK HERE for more information.
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