CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Recent data published by the Charleston Police Department shows car break-ins are on the rise in one area of the peninsula.

The Team 1 data, which includes the area from Calhoun Street to Pittsburgh Avenue, shows thefts from motor vehicles are up 255% during the month of May 2022 compared to May 2021, and up 28.1% for 2022 year-to-date compared to the same time frame a year ago.

This is the only area that reflects an increase in car break-ins. Data shows that city-wide, thefts are down in the year-to-date category.

In the East Side neighborhood specifically, 28 car break-ins have been recorded so far this year. Residents say they’ve been hearing stories from neighbors about stolen items.

One man who has called the East Side home for over 60 years, Joseph Watson, worried people facing tough times are turning to theft.

“Economically there are a lot of people that are hurting,” said Watson. “There are a lot of people on the lower side really desperate for things so they’re coming and thinking they have no other choice but to do something like that.”

CPD Sergeant Jud Haithcock says suspects have been identified for many of the East Side break-ins. He describes them as a group of kids out during the evening hours when they shouldn’t have been. He says a couple of them are lookouts while the others smash windows or pull on door handles and steal laptops, handguns, or cash.

“There may be others but this group has been targeting this area over here around the restaurants on the East Side,” said Sgt. Haithcock.

Two out of five of them were caught while actively breaking into cars recently and after a search warrant uncovered more evidence, more charges could be coming.

In the meantime, both CPD and community members are keeping their eyes open for any more suspects.

“We have some operations going on. We’ve increased patrols in the area as well,” said Sgt. Haithcock.

The Eastside Community Development Organization is having discussions about how to handle the problem.

“We talk about creating block captains so there’s a conversation within that block and the concerns can be brought to the meetings and then we can address the needs,” said Watson.

CPD says to make sure you lock your car doors and not leave any valuables in your vehicle especially as summer approaches because crime typically rises in the summer months.