Sheriffâ€™s Office authorities said a high number of unlocked vehicles and outbuildings have been broken into this month in areas east of Lincolnton.
Lt. Tim Johnson, head of criminal investigations, said the incidents are more than likely connected since theyâ€™ve all been occurring within a five-mile radius near Old Mill Road and Old Cilo Lane in neighborhoods around N.C. 150.
He said Wednesday morning the Sheriffâ€™s Office received nearly a dozen reports involving instances of breaking and entering which took place in the same general area Tuesday night.
Authorities believe the culprits who are committing the crimes are young in age but not juveniles.
â€œYou have to be 18 to do pawns, and you have to have an I.D.,â€ Johnson said.
Authorities noted how a similar rash of vehicular and outbuilding break-ins occurred this past summer when thieves appeared to be â€œtaking everythingâ€ in sight. However, cash has been the main item seized in this monthâ€™s most recent string of break-ins.
â€œTheyâ€™re taking more money and leaving the electronics,â€ Johnson said.
He pointed out that in at least two of the reports, victims stated that they had left money and an I-pad lying out in their vehicles.
â€œIf itâ€™s visible, a crookâ€™s gonna take it,â€ Johnson said. He also warned about leaving any type of medication or pill bottle in plain view.
Sheriff David Carpenter agreed with Johnson in a Sheriffâ€™s Office press release, noting how itâ€™s easy for a thief to remove valuable items such as a purse, wallet or GPS unit from an unlocked car.
In addition to keeping vehicles locked and windows closed, authorities suggested that individuals carry their valuables or keep them hidden in a locked trunk, not a glove box. A press release added that shoppers remember to park in well-lit areas.
Suspects who are arrested in connection with at least one of the incidents could face up to three charges, deputies said.
Sheriffâ€™s Office authorities ask that all suspicious activity in the area be reported to 911 who will immediately dispatch an officer to the location.
Johnson said the Communications Center sent out a LINCALERT both Wednesday and Thursday notifying residents of recent criminal activity. To sign-up for the free alerts, call (704) 735-8202.