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Auto theft on the rise in Pender County

PENDER COUNTY -- Detectives in Pender County are dealing with more and more cases of stolen cars. Over the past few months detectives suspect nearly 100 cars have been stolen, and then sold for scrap metal -- and the thieves are targeting all kinds of cars. Last month Thoedore Jones came home from work and found many of his belongings were gone. "Come back home, car was gone, toolbox was gone, lawn mower's gone," Jones said. Detectives say all of the items stolen were most likely sold for a couple of hundred bucks to a scrap yard. "But it's more value to me. I put a lot of work in it." Pender County Det. Lee Wells handled Jones's case and dozens of others in which cars were stolen and sold for scrap. Det. Wells said, "We've seen conditions where people drive the vehicle in, got out, said, this is scrap, the place says OK, where's your paperwork, and they'll take it in as a scrap vehicle whether it's running or not." A law that went into effect in 2007 requires metal recycling centers to get a seller's driver's license or photo ID, as well as the cars vehicle identification number. However, metal recycling companies say the title and registration are not required, leaving the door open for thieves. Jones may never know where his car ended up. Often a recycling center crushes vehicles in a matter of days. Local metal recycling companies that do accept cars say they try and deter thieves by catching all of it's customers on camera. Detectives, however, say more rural recycling companies don't have the technology and often times, don't follow proper procedure for identifying sellers.

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