June 7, 2006
With a rash of car break-ins near the University of Virginia, police are on the defensive and an undercover sting operation caught the criminals in the act.
Charlottesville police set up a decoy car on Madison Avenue, loaded it with an iPod, a cellphone and in the back seat a hidden camera.
In just three minutes two teens took the bait. A 14-year-old and a 15
year old they rode up on their bikes, saw the goods, and took it. That's when Charlottesville police moved in.
Police said more than 60 iPods have been stolen from cars in the last year and a half.
”One thing that jumped out at us recently was car break-ins. [They] are up 122% over a short period of time, so we decided we had to do something about that,” said Charlottesville Police Lt. Gary Pleasants.
A review of those crime stats launched this undercover sting operation.
”We had a list of five people that we knew had been involved in some of these break-ins and we had those names with us, the two boys that broke into our car were two of the five,” said Pleasants.
There was an interesting twist in this case today, as new evidence leads police to the 14-year-old's mother. They arrest her, police tell us, for selling one of her son’s stolen iPods at a local pawn shop.
The mother was helping him in his crime endeavors. She obviously knew they were stolen,” said Pleasants.
Both teens were arrested for grand larceny. A juvenile court judge found them guilty Tuesday and sentenced them to probation.
The 14-year-old and his mother still face charges of trying to sell those stolen iPods.
Charlottesville police remind people not to make it easy for thieves and keep your valuables and cars locked up.