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A license number helps police break up a Charlotte area auto-theft ring

Updated on April 21, 2011
Midnight Racers
Midnight Racers | Source

A rude awakening

My wife and I were awakened by screeching tires; followed by a loud thump-thump-thump in our front yard at about two in the morning.

We were still brain-fogged when we heard another car’s brakes screeching in a panicked attempt to avoid hitting the one that had just crashed.

Midnight racers

Two Honda Accord drivers had been racing each other down a curvy residential street that dead-ends about fifty feet from our bedroom window, near the front of the house.

The driver of the first Honda apparently didn’t know that the street that intersects ours stops there and doesn’t go straight through; that you have to turn right or left.

He had blasted through the stop sign before he realized that the street dead-ends there. He slammed on his brakes and went through the stop sign and into our front yard, hitting a large rock that I had put there for decorative purposes, square in the middle of his front bumper and grill.

After hitting the rock he took out a light pole and a smashed into a small pecan tree that I had planted just a few feet behind it in our front yard. If it hadn’t have been for all of that interference he might have crashed right into our bedroom.

Stolen cars

After trying to clear the cobwebs from what had apparently been some deep REM sleep, I hurried out the front door, as soon as I could grab a flashlight and put on a pair of pants, to see if anyone had been injured.

A young man was still sitting in the front seat dazed. There was a little bit of blood on his face where he had struck the steering wheel or the windshield. I’m not sure which. Both of them showed signs of impact even though the the air bag had been deployed.

I noticed that the passenger window was broken. There was a screwdriver, a greasy rag and some broken glass lying on the passenger seat. A glance at the mangled ignition switch told me that the car had been started without a key.

Don’t forget the license number

Meanwhile the other Honda that had bumped him in the rear end went down about two houses and turned around in a neighbor’s driveway. When he drove up I asked him if he was all right. The slightly injured driver jumped into the other car and they took off together. I noted the license number of the fleeing vehicle and kept repeating the number over and over in my head until I could get back into the house and write it down.

They didn’t know that I had put a small semi-automatic pistol in my back pocket just before I went out the door, because I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I got there.

When I got back in the house I called the police to report what had happened. When they arrived and checked things out there were finger-prints and other possible evidence all over the inside of the car, so it was put on the back of an auto-hauler and taken down to the police station’s crime lab.

A large auto-theft ring

A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from one of the policemen who is responsible for our neighborhood. He said that they had picked up the car with the license plate number that I had given them, that they collected a considerable amount of usable evidence between the two boys and the two Hondas; that it had resulted in them being able to close down a large Charlotte area auto-theft ring, that they had been after for a long time.

I had never had a policeman say so many nice things to me before.

Who could have known that taking down one license plate number would have been so important?


Sometimes it just isn't a car thief's day


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    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Its great to learn of such personal information being used by the authorities to catch criminals. What do the rest of us have to hide, if in the right hands. WOW you'll not soon forget about this! Peace and Love :)

    • vphomma1 profile image

      vphomma1 7 years ago

      Great story really happened right on your lawn! What's the odd of that's nice to know you're okay though.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Charlotte? Wow. I'll have to let my sister know about this. She lives nearby. Great story - brave of you to investigate and even better that your memory led to a round up of these perps. Bravo!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      What a story! That must have been shocking. Remembering the plate number was awesome.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Well done, a brilliant tale. I applaude you for remembering the plate number. If I was repeating something over and over in my mind, guaranteed I would end up totally wrong. A big pat on the back to our hero. Take care DiamondRN.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Sounds like you did a good thing by putting the rock there.

      Keep on hubbing!

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      My neighbor gets aggravated with that rock because she can't cut the corner going into her driveway because of it. My wife and I are sure glad it's there though. :0)

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

      GojiJuiceGoodness 7 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      Wow! I bet you're glad to have helped busted that ongoing crime! Seems like the rock was in the perfect place. :)

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      You must be so glad you have that rock and tree in your yard, just in the right place! I'm glad the thief took off, no telling what he would have done if he didn't have a ride. And the license plate number - getting it, remembering it - fantastic!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      What a great story! And it came to you. You didn't have to go out and dig for it! I keep thinking how I would have responded if that happened to me. Thanks for sharing it DiamondRN.