Crime Tracker: Car break-ins a growing problem

Car break-ins are one of the fastest growing crimes in Memphis, and has one Memphian so fed up he's trying to help catch crooks via video.

Michael Lasiter says he's tired of shelling out $275 to replace a car window every time a crook decides to break-in.

"Looks like they stuck a screwdriver here and here and just popped it," said Lasiter.

The shattering experience led Lasiter to keep watch via video. He mounted a camera in his Midtown apartment's window with a recorder nearby. Within days, the camera caught criminals in the act.

A recording from 3:10 am on September 3rd shows a man walking on Lasiter's parking lot. He looks into Lasiter's car and then cases others. A flash of broken glass and, within seconds, a truck pulls up with accomplices who go to work with speed and precision. Within just 3 minutes and 45 seconds, they broke into seven vehicles.

"It was very quick and very brief and they got what they needed and they were gone," Lasiter said.

Memphis police report 75 vehicle break-ins from July first through last week in two Midtown wards of the West Precinct: an average of one a day. The MPD has a task force working on this targeted area.

Also, police say they want to educate Memphians on how to avoid becoming a victim of car break-ins.

"I just leave the doors unlocked and don't leave anything in my car that I need so at least it'll save my window from getting broken," said Lasiter.

A break-in of Taylor Strickland's truck cost him a C-D player and climbing gear.

"They're just doing it and getting away with it time and time again and something has to be done," said Taylor Strickland, a break-in victim.

Michael Lasiter says different crews of criminals are hitting the same parking lots. After one recent break-in, he went on a one man search for crooks and spotted one.

"He ran. I chased him for about two blocks and got his tags and everything. It turned out his car was stolen, his tags were stolen," said Lasiter.

Police discourage chasing criminals but say video such as Lasiter's can be a big help. In all of Memphis, there were just over 14,000 thefts from vehicles in all of last year.

Our city is on pace to match or surpass that mark with nearly 96-hundred such crimes so far this year.

You can find tips to prevents auto break-ins by clicking here.