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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are warning one south Charlotte neighborhood to be alert after thieves broke into three cars near each other in one night and stole the owners' belongings.

"There was just stuff scattered everywhere," said Joey Dailey, whose truck was opened late Thursday night or early Friday morning in Madison Park, just south of Woodlawn Road. The thieves took some keys and a sentimental gift his mother had given him.

"It's disappointing, because when I moved here everyone said it's a good neighborhood," said Dailey, "and this happened."

The crime shared something in common with Matt Cameron's fiance's car, parked just around the corner.

"She actually left her car unlocked," said Cameron.

Neither car was locked when it was broken-in to.

Cameron said the thieves took the shoes his fiancé had bought for their wedding in October, and she is really upset about it.

"We really didn't expect there to be anyone coming through the neighborhood and opening car doors and taking things out of it," he said.

Across Charlotte, crime is down in every category except two, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on Friday; business burglaries and car break-ins are up slightly.

Deputy Chief Eddie Levins said break-ins are a crime they rely on the public to report, so they can catch who's responsible.

"We really need the public's assistance," said Levins, "Because without their eyes and ears on the street seeing and reporting to us what they're seeing, it's one of these crimes that happens so fast it's virtually impossible to stop."

Police repeated a warning they have given for years: take valuables out of your car, or at least place them out of sight under a seat or in the trunk.

Locking the doors might also prevent a break-in, since sometimes thieves just try door handles until they find one that is open.

Madison Park's Neighborhood Association is asking residents to report everything they see, and every crime-- no matter how small. Police use the reports to track where and when crimes happen.

Martin Doss of MPNA recommends calling police or using the online reporting service on CMPD's website.

Cameron believes the attention is helping.

"We've noticed a lot more police presence recently," he said, "which is good."

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