Percentages favor the criminal - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Percentages favor the criminal

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March 27, 2006

Albany -- A staggering 10 million burglaries and other property crimes are committed in America each year. Of those, fewer than 17% are solved, according to latest statistics from the FBI.

In Albany, the number of burglaries continues to rise. Home and business owners, alike, are being targeted. And like most law enforcement agencies, Albany Police only catch a few of the criminals.

A burglar hit Wings and Things Restaurant on Broad Avenue March 2nd. He broke through the drive-through window, snatched the cash register, and ran.

Three weeks later, business owner Sandra Townsell is relieved a suspect is behind bars. "I was grateful that the Albany Police Department had actually gone out and made an effort to make the businesses safe. It was a very gratifying feeling," said Townsell.

Albany Police arrested 36-year old Murry Moseley for the Wings and Things break-in and 14 other businesses burglaries, which didn't come as a surprise to Townsell. "A criminal has a pattern. That's what he does for a living, go around and taking things that aren't rightfully his. So I was not surprised. But I'm still grateful that just one more criminals is locked behind bars," she said.

But most burglary victims don't get that satisfying conclusion. There were 69,266 burglaries in Georgia, according to 2004 crime stats. Only 7,372 arrests were made for those burglaries. That's less than 11%.

Major Bobby Hooper says burglary is one of the hardest crimes to solve. "The biggest problem with solving property crimes is lack of physical evidence to be able to put somebody with the property in their hand or actually committing the crime," said APD Major Bobby Hooper.

There were more than 1,700 burglaries in Albany 2005. 2,298 were reported in Columbus, and 696 in Valdosta. "It's the fact that you don't have anybody to see it," said Hooper. "They are committed, often times, in the cloak of darkness or during the time of day when there is not a lot of people in the neighborhoods."

Albany's clearance rate is the lowest of those three. Albany solved around 8%, or 139 of burglary cases. Valdosta solved 9%, or 65 cases. Both south Georgia cities fell below the state average.

Columbus did a lot better, solving 16% of their 379 cases of burglaries in 2005.

Albany Police have stepped up patrols to deter thieves and are encouraging home and business owners to start crime watch organizations.

Police say it will take the community and police working together and watching out for each other to stop the rising burglary problem.

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