Car thefts on the rise - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Car thefts on the rise

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The theft rate here ranks Albany 116th in the country, a steady increase over the last two years.

According to National Insurance Crime Bureau, Albany had 485 car thefts last year.

The Albany Police Department has an Auto theft division working to cut the numbers.

A 1978 white Buick LeSabre was stolen and found burning early this morning along Blaylock Street. Surveillance video from last month shows a man stealing a BMW from Uncle Roberts Motors, the keys were left inside. Police say thieves are just looking for an easy target.

"That's exactly it, a crime of opportunity," Lt. Reginald Brown of APD's Auto Theft Division.

In Georgia, Albany ranks just about in the middle when it comes to car thefts.

"50 percent of the time it's just kids joy riding," said Brown.

Police say often people make it too easy for thieves by leaving the keys in the car. We decided to see if that was true. At the first store we stopped by, Woodall's on North Slappey we found this white pick-up, windows down, keys in the ignition, so we confronted driver Emory Harris who admitted it's a bad habit.

"Since it was daytime, I don't do it at night, since I was going into the store, to play some lotteries, I wasn't going to be in there but ten minutes," said Emory Harris.

Police say it only takes a turn of the keys and thieves are gone. Cars are sometimes recovered, but police are also tracking a chop shop.

"We have information, but we don't have nothing in concrete where we can pinpoint a location, but we're receiving information on a location where cars are being taken," Brown said.

Police say they're close to making an arrest in the theft of the BMW from Uncle Roberts, but say the more vigilant the community is about locking their doors, they lower Albany can fall on the list of hot spots for stolen cars.

Police say the best defense against thieves is to lock your car at all times on the street and in your driveway.

Also, they say you shouldn't leave valuables like GPS units, purses, or I-pods insight.

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