Thefts from cars: the least-solved crime in Raleigh expected to grow as holidays approach

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Over the last three years, almost 8,500 citizens in Raleigh have been victims of a specific crime. With the holiday season right around the corner, the crime victim numbers are expected to grow.

The crime: larceny from motor vehicles. And after looking at the numbers, the odds of finding justice in Raleigh are very slim.

Disel Means is a crime victim.

“I was gonna grab something came back upstairs and then like 10 minutes later I come back to my car and my doors are all open,” Means said.

​And he’s not alone. Videos shared on his community’s social media page show criminals in the act — checking cars for unlocked doors and looking for things to swipe off of porches.

These crimes are called larcenies. Means said he contacted Raleigh police and even showed them the pictures and videos.​ He said when police arrived to investigate he didn’t feel if they were actually helping.

“No, they didn’t. They took a report and they left and I haven’t heard anything since,” Means recalled.

​Solving these types of crimes is a problem for Raleigh police. CBS 17 asked the department for their top reported crimes over the last three years. Larceny from a motor vehicle, which includes stealing items from inside a car, is their second-highest reported crime with 8,471 instances.

Raleigh solved just 518 of those crimes — a clearance rate of just 6 percent.

“That’s upsetting. I mean why would I even make a report and they’re not solving any crimes. I work hard for my money and I expect not to be violated as such,” said Means.

Police said they examine the crime clearance rates.

“Clearance rates are something we constantly look at because it’s one of the key measures we use to measure our success,” said Capt. Andy Murr of the Raleigh Police Department.

Murr has seen the numbers and agrees that there’s room for improvement.​

​”We are constantly looking for ways we can try to improve. We never want to get away from the things that lead to success and we compare very well to the national average,” Murr said.

Numbers collected by the FBI show thefts from motor vehicles have a clearance rate of 13.8 percent nationally. Once again, Raleigh’s clearance rate is just 6 percent — less than half of the national average.

Murr says these crimes are often complex. ​

​​”There’s evidence, physical evidence at the scene. The availability of video –all those things are what we call solvability factors and that all plays into the likelihood or potential for success for that investigation,” Murr said.

Murr also said the ease of solving a crime plays a role in what resources and manpower they use.

The crime that Raleigh police clears the most — misdemeanor drug violations. With a clearance rate of 86 percent over the last three years. But these are crimes usually witnessed by officers. So if they see it or they smell it, they can charge a person.

But with the holidays coming and packages expected to be left at doorsteps and in cars and the frequency of these larcenies is expected to grow.

So what are Raleigh police doing to improve the clearance rate?​

“We are never satisfied until it’s a 100 percent — we are never satisfied so we want to improve again across all classifications of crimes to solve the most that we can,” ​Murr said.

“I would love to have it at 100% and they could take care of these crimes but unless anything happens I can’t do too much but complain and that’s about it,” Means said.

Raleigh police have one of the nation’s highest clearance rates when it comes to homicides — at 96 percent.

But that still doesn’t negate the fact that one of the crimes affecting more citizens in Raleigh, is the easiest to get away with. ​

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