Freedom For Facts
The car thefts began on March 17, 2020, when 18 break-ins occurred at auto dealers in Winston-Salem, according to a release from Crime Stoppers of Winston Salem Forsyth County.
An additional two auto dealers were targeted 15 minutes away in Kernersville.
The stolen vehicles came from at least eight dealerships, including Audi, Ford, Lexus, Volvo, Honda, Subaru, Chevrolet, and Toyota.
For the majority of the thefts, the suspects allegedly swiped keys for new cars or cars that were in the process of being serviced at one of the dealerships.
Many of the dealerships were stolen from multiple times.
Authorities said they have unsuccessfully tried to secure custody of many of the juvenile suspects.
The reason why authorities have been unsuccessful is unclear, but the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced that it was trying to lower the amount of detained minors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All but six of the vehicles were recovered in the $1,138,718 heists, WFMY reported.
Police took Stewart Binns, 19, into custody in connection with the crimes on March 25 and charged him with possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He is currently being held at the Forsyth County Detention Center.
Four of the children were arrested, and three had minor charges that did not warrant an arrest. The children who avoided arrest will still likely face some form of penalty, or their parents could face penalties for their children’s actions, including fines, civil penalties, or jail.
Lt. Amy Gauldin of the Winston-Salem Police Department told the Winston-Salem Journal that some of the children are repeat offenders and have been suspected of stealing several cars before.
Gauldin said most of them were taking joy rides out of boredom.
Authorities are asking anyone with any information about the investigation to call the Winston-Salem Police Department at (336) 773-7700 or CrimeStoppers at (336) 727-2800.