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“Smash and grab” thefts are on the rise here in North Carolina and other states, and law enforcement officials think they know why.

They recently discovered a theft crime ring that reaches from Georgia into North Carolina where the alleged offenders break into vehicles to take debit and credit cards.

The two females and one male suspect allegedly look for vehicles in public parks where valuables are left in sight. The suspects break vehicle windows to take cash and cards. Then they proceed to retailers like Kroger to purchase gift cards at self-checkout lanes, normally in amounts up to $500.

The thefts occurred between December 2017 and February 2018, and police are actively looking for the suspects.

What might happen to them if they are caught in North Carolina?

North Carolina Theft Laws

Theft is called larceny under North Carolina law. Generally speaking, it covers, taking someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. In the above smash and grab cases, several different charges could apply. Let’s look at each in detail.

General Theft

State theft law says that penalties are handed out according to the value of the property in question. Here is a breakdown of what charges apply according to the value.

Class 3 misdemeanor—first offense of concealment of property (shoplifting). Punishable with a suspended sentence of 24 hours of community service.

Class 2 misdemeanor—second offense of concealment of property within three years of first offense. Punishable with 72 hours in jail and 72 hours of community service.

Class 1 misdemeanor—larceny of items or services with less than $1,000 in total value. Punishable with one to 45 days in jail.

Class H felony—larceny of items or services valued at over $1,000. Punishable with 4 to 8 months of incarceration, depending on mitigating factors.

In addition to these criminal penalties, an offender may be charged with civil penalties filed by the property owner, such as a retail store owner. Penalties may include actual and punitive damages.

Identity Theft

An individual can be charged with identity theft in North Carolina for knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using any identifying information about someone else with an intent of making a fraudulent representation of that person to gain financial value or benefit.

The theft of these types of identifying information will result in a charge:

  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license
  • Checking or savings account numbers
  • Debit or credit card numbers
  • Personal Identification (PIN) Codes
  • Digital signatures
  • Electronic identification numbers, usernames, or passwords

Other information is subject to this law, and an experienced North Carolina criminal attorney will know if the charges apply to your case. Identity theft is a Class G felony in most cases.


Burglary is a serious crime in North Carolina. It is defined as breaking into a motor vehicle, watercraft, building, or structure to commit a crime while inside. Burglary is punished as a felony in the state of North Carolina.

Fighting Your Theft Charges

Greensboro Theft Lawyers

If you are facing theft charges in North Carolina, it’s essential for you to contact an experienced attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. We will work hard to build a solid defense against your charges. Call today for a free consultation.

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