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Car Thefts on the Rise in North Carolina


The number of vehicle thefts in North Carolina has risen for the first time after being on a steady decline for the past 10 years, according to CBS 17. The number of vehicles stolen increased by 4,000 from 2015 to 2016. The last time the number of thefts increased was in 2006. No one can say for sure what has caused this spike in thefts, but many believe that it is because of new technology associated with vehicles. Newer cars have a key fob that sends a signal to unlock or start cars. Thieves are able to intercept that signal, copy it, and later return to steal a vehicle. While new technology could play a big part in the increased vehicle thefts, one worker at the Division of Motor Vehicles believes that the number of thefts could be cut in half if people made sure to always lock their vehicles and avoid leaving a vehicle running while unattended.

Motor Vehicle Theft

In most states, motor vehicle theft has its own category under that state’s theft statutes. In North Carolina, however, this is not the case. There is no separate or distinct vehicle statute included in the North Carolina General Statutes. Instead, theft is broken into two categories: petty theft and grand theft. Petty thefts are usually misdemeanor crimes, while grand theft is generally a felony. Grand thefts are distinguished by the value of the property being stolen.

Under the general larceny statute, the theft of goods over $1,000 is a felony and under $1,000 is a misdemeanor. In the case of vehicles, if the vehicle is worth more than $1,000 it is considered a grand theft, punishable by one or more years in prison. This brings up the question of what happens if a vehicle is worth less than $1,000. In North Carolina, receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle is considered a felony. Therefore, a person who is suspected of stealing a vehicle will almost always be charged with a felony, regardless of the value.

Even though there is no separate charge of vehicle theft, auto theft is often talked about like it is its own charge and statute. Generally, when police officers are making a report, they will state whether there is “larceny of a motor vehicle” or just plain “larceny.” It appears like there is a difference, but really both of the previous charges would be based on the same statute.

Contact an Attorney for Help 

If you have been charged with stealing a motor vehicle, you need a local criminal defense attorney to examine your case. Hauter Law Firm, PC is a North Carolina criminal defense firm that is equipped with a knowledgeable staff and attorney who can provide an excellent defense. We understand that any criminal charge or conviction can have a drastic impact on one’s life. Therefore, we pride ourselves in offering the best possible defense to achieve the best possible results given the circumstances. Contact us today for a consultation.


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