A citywide increase in house break-ins has Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police examining new ways to combat crime, including the use of undercover officers, bike patrols, and truancy enforcement, the Charlotte Observer reports. Break-ins were up about 7 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2003. In one area, break-ins are up more than 20 percent. About 88 percent of house break-ins result in no charges. The clearance rate in Charlotte — generally, those cases where police have made an arrest or exhausted all investigative options — is slightly lower than the national average. Police say there are generally few witnesses and investigators rarely find useful physical evidence at the scene. “It’s easier to prevent these crimes,” said Capt. Andy Leonard, who supervises the Police Department’s burglary investigations.
The sounding of alarms doesn’t always prevent crime. Burglars often see the time lapse between the alarm and police response as a four- or five-minute window of opportunity to commit the crime. The most popular items among burglars are electronics, cash, jewelry, and guns. A recent spike in some areas may be tied to teens out of school for the summer, police say. About 20 percent of residential burglary arrests between 2001 and last year were of suspects 15 and under.