Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police are trying to deal with a surge in crime at hotels and motels, where car break-ins often leave visitors with a sour taste, the Charlotte Observer reports. Reported crimes at hotels jumped 15.5 percent in 2004 to more than 2,400. Police have begun providing more security advice to hotel owners and guests. They are mulling an ordinance that would require cooperation from all hotels, said Capt. Diego Anselmo, who has been leading the department’s response to hotel crime. Police face major difficulties, including the challenge of prosecuting cases when the victims live out of state and cannot return for a trial. Mayor Pat McCrory wants to expand the definition of victims to include hotel owners and managers.
McCrory encouraged pressure on the district attorney’s office to change the way it prosecutes car break-ins around hotels and other businesses. To get a larceny conviction, prosecutors must show that the property belonged to someone else and was taken without permission. They cannot rely on affidavits or sworn statements. “I don’t know how you get away from the fact that the property is actually owned by someone else,” said a prosecutor. Except for crimes in progress, police do not respond to car break-ins and car thefts, because that is not the best use of officers’ time, said one supervisor.