Albany - A WALB investigation into how Albany Police handle reports of car thefts leads to changes in the way APD communicates with other police agencies. Albany's Police Chief says the changes will ensure that his officers work closer with other agencies.
Younger says that work is already paying off. He says, "Well, there's always room for improvement." Improve. That's what Chief Younger says he plans to do about communication between the Albany Police Department and other law enforcement agencies when it comes to stolen vehicles.
Younger says, "A lot of times motor vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity." And Younger says he wants to take the opportunity to open the lines of communication. He plans to publish a "Hot Sheet" that he'll circulate around the department and to other agencies with information about stolen cars. "Right now for example," says Younger, "vehicles are entered into a state as well as national database."
But that's not always enough because officers from other agencies would have to enter a vehicle's tag number into the database in order to find out it was stolen. After complaints about the current policy related to vehicle thefts, Younger says he'll create the "hot sheet" and make sure a lookout is posted for the car multiple times. He says, "We are also going to enhance the possibilities of communications by making sure that copies of lookouts are sent to communications and to remind communications, which is under another agency, to broadcast them on all frequencies that are available."
Here's proof that an open line of communication works: Over the weekend a Nissan Sentra was stolen from Edwards Motors. They called the Sheriff's Office who told APD about the theft. Then a citizen called APD last night when they spotted the car, and it was recovered shortly thereafter. But not every car will always turn up.
Younger says, "There are some that are just going to be impossible to recover. Some are chopped up and parts sold and some vehicles, the VIN numbers are changed and resold and re-titled in other states and then some are in fact taken out of the country."
But Younger hopes by sharing the information more vehicles will be recovered in Albany and Dougherty County. City Commissioners want the lines of communication to be open both ways. They hope by offering information to DCP and the Sheriff's office, those agencies will also share information.
Nearly two dozen Albany car theft victims definitely won't get their vehicles back. They were destroyed after thieves made quick money from them. Albany police say 22 cars that had been reported stolen were sold to AAA used auto parts.
Those cars were then crushed or destroyed. Police Chief James Younger says someone may have falsified paperwork in order to sell the vehicles to the business. He says salvage businesses need to make sure all the proper documents are in place before they accept a vehicle. Chief Younger says, "I think it's absolutely important, number one, for them to receive picture ID, government ID, such as a driver's license in addition to the actual title of that vehicle."
Some people who steal vehicles also apparently rent them out. If you know a vehicle is stolen and choose to buy or rent it. You can also be prosecuted for receiving stolen goods.
So what can you do to keep from having your car stolen? The first steps are pretty obvious. 40% of stolen vehicles in Albany are the direct result of someone leaving their car unlocked or keys inside. Know your vehicle identification and tag numbers and any other identifying information about your car. And as with most crimes, the sooner you alert police to the theft, the better your chances of seeing your vehicle again. It's no guarantee though. Many cars are chopped up for parts and some are sold in other states or even other countries.