MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Auto glass repair shops are seeing an increase in people coming in to fix broken windows and they say it’s tied to the frequency of car break-ins happening in the region.
“Almost every single day in my area, somebody's posting stolen cars, [saying] somebody broke into my car,” Aiesha Desarme said.
And she would know. Desarme found her car's windows shattered after someone tried to steal it outside her house.
“There was glass all over the outside of my car, there's glass all in the inside of my car everywhere,” Desarme said. “Then I could see that they had like, tampered with the plastic under the ignition.”
In the first quarterly report, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department described a 99% increase in car thefts compared to 2022.
“It’s super disrespectful, you have no idea like how what you're doing is how it's going to inconvenience somebody's life,” Desarme said. “People use their cars to get from work, to take their kids to school and to deal with their families. You know, for me, I have some terminally ill family members on taking care of and so this is just a huge inconvenience on my time.”
Incidents like these are sending more people to Auto Glass Experts. Zuhair Madanat is the owner.
“It’s definitely something drastic because it is specific vehicles," Madanat said. "So the Hyundais and Kias, we see a lot of."
Madanat said they are working as fast as they can to get people back in their vehicles and on the road, but what used to be one- or two-day turnarounds to get glass has turned into weeks.
“The supply is not able to keep up with the demand,” Madanat said. “So some vehicle owners are having to wait quite a while until we are able to get the glass in stock.”
Madanat's advice is to get a wheel lock for your car. Kia and Hyundai developed theft deterrent software. He recommends checking to see if your car qualifies. The companies are also working with local police agencies to provide free steering wheel locks.
“They can put that update on it that way if it is broken into ... So they can’t joyride it,” Madanat said. “Also, hide your cellphone chargers. Don’t keep them in the vehicle because that is what they are using to start the vehicle.”
It’s a costly trend Desarme said she hopes to see end soon.
“These crimes are careless, and they're selfish,” she said. “It's just not, it's not fair.”
“No one is really planning to have someone break into their vehicle, so it's an additional expense when you have other costs rising on families and individuals,” Madanat said. “We really feel for individuals so we try to do our best for people price-wise to make it reasonable for them.”