Do More Guns Mean More Crime?

Authorities believe that violent crimes on the Carolina coast may be fueled by a dramatic increase in gun thefts.

Police have recovered only a fraction of the 1,440 weapons reported stolen in Wilmington/New Hanover over the past five years, and Captain Jim Varrone of the Wilmington Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division estimates that over 90 percent of the area’s violent crimes involve at least one stolen gun. Additionally, according to a survey of jail inmates, stolen guns are often used as cash to finance drug purchases and other illicit activity. Authorities link the number of gun thefts with the number of legal sales, which have increased significantly in recent years. However, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office does not believe there is a one-to-one relationship with guns and violent crime, and that a decrease in supply would not necessarily mean a decrease in crime.

Over a third of gun theft incidents involve burglary of a vehicle; in a majority of these cases, the burglar used an unlocked car door to gain access to the weapon.

Larceny Categories

North Carolina has some of the broadest theft laws in the country. The statute does not define the phrase, but at common law, larceny involves the taking of tangible or intangible goods or services without the owner’s effective consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner. All these terms have specific meanings, which will be discussed below.

The statute does identify some specific situations, including:

  • Concealing Store Merchandise: This offense may also involve altering a price tag or similar efforts.
  • Receiving Stolen Property: Constructive knowledge (i.e. the defendant had a reason to believe the property was stolen) is usually enough to support a conviction.
  • Gasoline Larceny: Driving away from a gas pump without paying is just one theft-of-services item.
  • Larceny of Automobile Parts: This offense is normally charged alongside a burglary of a vehicle offense.

Larceny, depending on the value of the item(s), is often a felony in North Carolina.


It is often difficult for the state to prove ownership in these cases, because the trial usually takes place months or even years after the underlying offense. During this period, the owner sometimes loses interest in the case and is unwilling to press charges further. Other times, the “owner” named in the charging instrument is a store manager or clerk who has since relocated and is unavailable at trial.

Intent to permanently deprive is sometimes an issue as well. Many times, the statute preempts this defense; for example, in a shoplifting case, intent to permanently deprive can be presumed from concealment. But other situations are in a grey area, such as “borrowing” property and not returning it straightaway.

A Strong Voice for Defendants

A larceny conviction can mean a lengthy prison sentence. For a confidential consultation with Charlotte attorneys who are on your side, contact Remington & Dixon, PLLC.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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