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Police, FBI bust crime ring that broke into cars

Mugshots of some suspected members of crime ring. hspace=6

A year-long investigation led to the arrest of more than a dozen members of a crime ring that police say broke into cars in nearly every neighborhood in Mecklenburg County. Typically, car break-ins are hard to prosecute because the losses to each victim are relatively small and the stolen goods are difficult to track. But in the case of the crime ring busted this week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Deputy Police Chief Harold Medlock says it wasn't the breaking-in that got them caught: "We followed the trail of the credit cards and checks that were being stolen and were able to develop a pattern," says Medlock. "The problem was CMPD did not have the ability to properly investigate and prosecute those particular crimes." That's where the FBI got involved: Now nine of the fourteen people in custody face federal charges for fraud and identity theft. Medlock says that also means members of the crime ring could face stiffer penalties and longer jail times than they would on local property crime charges. Just in the last year, CMPD says members of the group were arrested 47 times and share 79 prior convictions. Medlock says they hit hundreds of cars, stole property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and did so as recently as the last 72 hours.