Crime frightens, angers small business owner -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Crime frightens, angers small business owner

November 29, 2005

Dougherty County -- It's not only people living in Albany terrified by crime. Small businesses say they are scared, too.

One East Albany business owner says thieves are hitting them every night, threatening to shut them down.

Owners of Albany Housing Center and Albany Auto on Sylvester Road say thefts have gotten so bad at their business, they are scared.

"It's terrible. I don't even like to stay here alone after dark, because so much of it is going on," Owner Troi Tucker said.

Thieves are breaking into their mobile homes, and stripping them. Tucker said "They come in and remove all the copper around the compressor of our air conditioning units, and they just leave me a mess like this."

The aluminum siding on one home was ripped off this week, to be sold for scrap. Many of their homes show the same destruction. The thieves are even cutting the wiring out of the walls. Eight heating units have been stolen in the last weeks.

Tucker said "But they come in here and remove the whole unit, so that costs another $700 or $800 to replace that portion of the home."

For a small business owner, these thefts could drive them out of business. "It's hard enough to get a business going, and then when people come in and steal from you, it makes it hard to recuperate after that."

Their cars are even being stolen, from right out in front. Tucker said "They busted this window out and pried this open, and then busted the steering column to try to steal it." They didn't get away with it. "No, not this one, but the same night they got an El Camino that we had out here."

Tucker said they call the Police, but by the time they get there the thieves are gone. So now they have to guard their business all night. Tucker said "The Police aren't going to do anything about it, so we've decided we are going to have to step in and handle it."

Tucker and her family and workers will stand guard at their business night and day, fighting to keep thieves from ruining them.

The Tuckers have owned Albany Housing Center for three years, but they say the thieves have gotten much bolder in recent weeks.