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Stephen Davis of Mooresville accepted a $500 check Friday from Dave Rochester of North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers for his tip that led to arrests in a December credit union robbery. (Cornelius News / Davidson News)

Stephen Davis of Mooresville was on his way back to work at the Fresh Market shopping center in Cornelius the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2014 when he spotted a silver Chrysler Pacifica backed up behind the shops.

“I had never seen that. Normally there’s no cars back there,” Davis recalled Friday.

He parked his own car and went into the HoneyBaked Hams Cafe, where he works. “When I went to leave  15 minutes later, I noticed all the police in the area.” He soon learned the nearby Carolinas Telco Federal Credit Union had been robbed and saw a bicycle that had been ditched behind the store.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s exactly where that car was parked,” he said.

Davis gave police a description of the car and detectives later showed him security camera photos that helped him positively identify the vehicle. It turned out the Pacifica had been seen leaving the area and also was seen near the Lake Norman YMCA, where earlier someone had called in a bomb threat, as a diversion for the robbery.

The tip about the vehicle helped police break the case. They tracked the vehicle to Maryland and arrested a woman accomplice on Jan. 5. Then two weeks ago, they arrested the man who wore a mask and robbed the credit union. Both now are in custody and facing charges.

On Friday, Davis accepted a $500 check from Dave Rochester of North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers for his crucial tip about the silver Pacifica.

Rochester said the tip, along with the Cornelius Police Department’s security cameras, helped police solve the crime.

Sgt. Tracy Crosby of the Cornelius Police Department said police also are investigating to see if the pair are connected to other similar robberies in Maryland, Delaware, and Alabama.

Citizens who take the time to become involved in the fight against crime can make a difference as the Huntersville Police were happy to learn once again earlier this year when a bystander helped officers nab a vehicle break-in artist in the Birkdale shopping center.

The citizen bystander was eating lunch in her car around noon on Jan. 13th when she heard a banging noise nearby. She looked to her left and observed a white Chevy Malibu parked next to a black Ford Pickup. She observed a black male subject pounding something on the driver side door of the pickup. She observed the subject as he entered the pickup and began looking around inside. The subject then returned to the Chevy and drove away. The citizen recognized the pickup truck as belonging to her coworker and contacted the co-worker who came out to his truck and then called 911. With help from the citizen's description of both subject and his vehicle, the suspect was located and detained not far away. Sam's Mart. The witness then agreed to be transported by uniform patrol to the location where the suspect was being held for a "show up" identification.  She positively identified the suspect as the individual she observed breaking into her co-workers vehicle, and provided a written statement to attach to the case file.

The suspect was subsequently charged with three auto breaking-and-entering cases. Additional charges, based on other cases, are pending. HPD officials say capturing vehicle B/E perpetrators is difficult because they usually commit their crimes out of sight and with great haste. This particular case could not have been solved without the help of the citizen bystander, who chose to get involved.

The North Mecklenburg Crimestoppers encourages citizen participation in the fight against with its Citizen Crimestopper Award, as well as through the funding of rewards for information that leads to an arrest or conviction in crimes committed in the north Mecklenburg area.