Senators want double sentence for smash and grab burglaries - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Senators want double sentence for smash and grab burglaries

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The Georgia State Senate passed a "smash and grab" crime bill, that would double the amount of prison time for destructive burglars. Senators say the burglary rash is taking a huge financial toll on businesses.

Senate Bill 423 would make breaking into a Georgia retail business, causing $500 in damage, a felony, and even a first offense could get the burglar 20 years in prison.

South Georgia business owners and prosecutors say the stiffer punishment should help stop the crimes.

Take a look at this surveillance video, as a burglar smashes the front door glass of Miles Towing and Recovery on North Jefferson about 10 Monday night. The burglar alarm did not go off, but the cameras catch the bold thief rifling through desk drawers for about 30 seconds before taking off.

Miles Towing and Recovery Owner Michael Miles said "I had some money and I had a pistol in a drawer, and they got it."

The outside cameras show the burglar casing out the business, then throwing a rock through the front window. Lawmakers say crimes like this have surged statewide, taking a huge toll on small business.

Miles Towing employee Robin Owens said "It's extremely scary. Anybody can tell you whoever has come in here, they always come up to a locked door."

Senators say smash and grab burglaries like this have cost businesses nearly 4 million dollars in four years. That's why they passed a proposal that would make a crime like this punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, and a $100,000 fine.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said "I have no problem with an additional penalty for that, because these types of crimes usually involve premeditation, organization, and you are going specifically for a particular retail establishment."

The folks at Miles Towing like the idea hope the stiffer penalty will keep others from smashing and grabbing.

 Owens said "I think it will. I think it will make them think twice anyway. Hopefully."

Miles said "I know we are not going to get the money back or the gun, or anything like that. But at least if they get caught, that will be worth something."

And they want you to look closely at this thief, and if you can identify him call Albany Police and give them the information, so that he doesn't smash into any more businesses.

The Georgia Retail Association says there has been a dramatic increase in smash and grab burglaries in the last 4 years.

Senators also doubled the prison sentence to a possible ten years for adults who encourage a minor to commit a smash and grab burglary.

The smash and grab legislation was passed unanimously by the Georgia Senate.

If you have any information on the thief who burglarized Miles Towing on North Jefferson, call the Albany Police at 431-2100, or CRIME STOPPERS at 436-TIPS.

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