Winston-Salem police find vehicles stripped of parts along trail system as motor vehicle thefts spike

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police say motor vehicles are being stolen at an alarming rate and some of them are being found stripped along a vast trail system in the southeast corner of the city.

“What they’ve done is found these isolated areas that we don’t have the means to patrol, because an average patrol car couldn’t get down in here," said Sgt. T.S. Mabe, of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

The system consist of several miles of trails between Interstate 40 and U.S. 311. Mabe says, with help from city workers, officers found three stolen vehicles along the trails, some stripped "chop shop" style, with their engines, transmissions and catalytic converters removed.

“It makes for a perfect spot for people to illegally dump tires and even stolen cars," Mabe said, of the terrain.

Police say there have been at least 90 vehicle thefts in the city since Nov. 1.

“Of those 90, 80 of the vehicles were unlocked or left running," Mabe added.

Police are still unsure who stole the vehicles, where they were stripped and how they got on the trails. As they investigate, they continue to warn people that vehicle thefts are a crime of opportunity and they will become more common if people continue to leave their cars unlocked and/or running during the colder months.