Police prepare for thieves targeting Coca-Cola 600 fans

Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

CONCORD, NC - MAY 27: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quaker State Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2012 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)


by GLENN COUNTS / NBC Charlotte

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Posted on May 22, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 5:40 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On any given day there are thousands of cars in the University Area, but throw in race week and add thousands more.

"We got all the restaurants. They are going to be packed this weekend. We've got all our hotels reporting to us that they are at 100 percent capacity,” said Captain Todd Garrett of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police University Division.

Garrett points out that not everyone is coming to have a good time. Some want to ruin the holiday by breaking into cars.

"A lot of the victimization is occurring because victims are leaving things in open view. Things that are easily accessible," said Garrett.

On Wednesday morning, police went public with an effort reduce the number of car break-ins by reminding drivers to remove valuables like purses, wallets, cell phones and GPS navigation systems.

Police say that during last year’s Coca-Cola 600, 38 cars were broken into in the University Area, 12 of them in hotel or motel parking lots.

Officers gave crime prevention materials to hotel and restaurant operators to hand out to their customers. And some officers like Krista Dodd talked up crime prevention with some motorists in the parking lot of the University Hilton.

“We have these hang tags you can put in your window just letting them know you took everything out of your car,” she said.

In addition to the education campaign, police are planning to be very visible this weekend.

"We’re going to have extended patrols out this weekend. We’re also going to be using some undercover officers and some different things,” said Garrett.