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