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Fearless car thieves follow familiar pattern

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Less than six hours.



That's how much time elapsed between the time a 21-year-old man reported his 1985 Monte Carlo stolen and the time it was found stripped and dumped in the Cherry Tree neighborhood.

The car was missing its engine, transmission, tires, stereo, gear shift, license plate and other parts.

Each morning, Richmond County sheriff's deputies find cars stolen from all over the area abandoned in the 15th Street housing project.

"These vehicles are turning up on a daily basis out here," Sgt. Robbie Silas said. "They're leaving them on blocks; they are leaving them in the middle of roadways."

At 1,428, the number of automobile thefts from January to October of this year is up slightly over 2008 in Richmond County. Compared month to month, in October there were 186 thefts versus 163 the same time last year. Exact statistics for the Cherry Tree neighborhood and surrounding area were not immediately available.

Billy Dixon, who investigates car thefts for the sheriff's office, said the thieves seem to be targeting older model General Motors cars because they are easier to steal. Computer systems and chips embedded in the keys of late-model vehicles are a deterrent.

He said it's hard to say whether most car thefts are random incidents or organized efforts by experienced thieves, but, he said, there are "repeat offenders" who are at work in the area.

Sgt. Silas is more direct. He believes thieves are operating unlicensed garages nearby and might be stripping parts from the cars there, then dropping them in the yards of vacant homes. If they plan on picking them up later, they will leave them parked near an apartment in Cherry Tree.

"They'll drop them off at night and pick them back up if they're not found," he said.

On Tuesday, deputies found a North Augusta man's Chevrolet Silverado truck parked in the fire lane on Bleakley Street. The tires had been removed, then replaced with scrap tires in order to drive the truck to its resting place in Cherry Tree. A large metal toolbox was stolen from the truck's bed.

Sgt. Silas said thieves leave cars in plain sight. "They're not scared, and they're good," he said.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

TIPS TO PREVENT LOSS

- Always lock your vehicle.

- Never hide a second set of keys in the vehicle. Store spare keys in your wallet or purse.

- Park in a well-lighted, busy area.

- Avoid parking beside vans, pickups and other large vehicles. They can make it more difficult for others to observe your vehicle.

- Never leave your vehicle running unattended.

- Avoid transferring items to the trunk of a vehicle where it is parked. A thief might be watching.

- Checkbooks, credit cards or other credentials should not be left in a vehicle, and don't leave packages or valuables in sight.

- Don't disconnect the buzzer that warns of keys in the ignition. It's for your protection.

Source: Columbia County Sheriff's Office

STOLEN VEHICLES BY THE NUMBERS

1,428: Vehicle thefts reported in Richmond County through October, just 265 fewer than were reported in all of 2008

186: Vehicle thefts reported in Richmond County in October, an increase of 23 over 2008

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office

Comments (98) Add comment
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JacquesUlar
0
Points
JacquesUlar 12/12/09 - 02:27 am
0
0
If we had a trolley system

If we had a trolley system these poor underserved folks wouldn't have to steal cars to get home.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 12/12/09 - 04:43 am
0
0
Then here is an idea, POST

Then here is an idea, POST DEPUTIES THERE! If this is happening 'on a daily basis' then post guards.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 12/12/09 - 04:50 am
0
0
Of course they feel free to

Of course they feel free to do as they please because those living off of the government dole could care less about stealing from others, the use of drugs, alcohol all day long, etc. its just more of the same, financed by the hardworking taxpayers. As for the vehicles ending up their often, then you need to solve the problem through undercover officers, hidden cameras or whatever it takes to catch these theives and hoepfully go before a judge that wont let them right back out.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 12/12/09 - 05:27 am
0
0
They have to get home from

They have to get home from Columbia County somehow when they are done with their Christmas shoplifting. Geez!

curly123053
5141
Points
curly123053 12/12/09 - 05:51 am
0
0
I say why don't they get

I say why don't they get search warrants to search the entire public housing complex for illegal activity. They have probable cause already with the daily find of stolen cars there. They can also have a team of officers walking through these projects with drug sniffing dogs to see which doors get their attention and use a search warrant to see why. It is no secret this place if full of criminal activity.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 05:51 am
0
0
Why would anyone want to

Why would anyone want to frame these poor victims...and for no apparent reason. These people's lives are hard enough (due to the luck of life's lottery) without groups trying to make them look like thieves, too. Times are really hard under Obama.

steelermoose1
0
Points
steelermoose1 12/12/09 - 06:28 am
0
0
"Then here is an idea, POST

"Then here is an idea, POST DEPUTIES THERE! If this is happening 'on a daily basis' then post guards."..Brad Owens

And where do you suppose the money for that will come from?? They are already gonna be furloughing 4 days from deputies next year due to a "shortfall" in the "budget" RCSO is already strapped enough as it is. The housing units can only work so many hours...they have families and lives too.

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 12/12/09 - 06:38 am
0
0
Brad made a terrific post. We

Brad made a terrific post. We already have Housing Units why not dedicate them to Cherry Tree and the others for a period of time. Granted they will just move alone, but at least attempt to do something other than a newspaper article. Why not offer a reward via the insurance companies that will have to pay for these vehicles for information that leads to the return of intact vehicles.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 12/12/09 - 06:50 am
0
0
well, I would take some of

well, I would take some of that money being given to the DDA and reallocate it for armed private security or expansion of deputies for this reason.

charliemanson
1
Points
charliemanson 12/12/09 - 07:00 am
0
0
Criminals wouldn't be

Criminals wouldn't be stealing if it wasn't for good citizens like us always out looking for a "good deal."

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 07:20 am
0
0
How about ending ALL subsidy

How about ending ALL subsidy housing and set up a fenced reservation that subsidy recipients would have to EARN their way out of? No care would be stolen because no cars would be allowed within the res. . Start training the recipients to return to society as working contributors or to the country of their choice.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 07:20 am
0
0
that's "...no car would

that's "...no car would be..."

SoonerorLater
0
Points
SoonerorLater 12/12/09 - 07:26 am
0
0
Since they are living at tax

Since they are living at tax payer expense, and to make sure that no illegal activities are taking place and to make sure the taxpayer housing is not being ruined, have a housing inspector do a thorough inspection of each dwelling monthly. This would ensure the taxpayer property is being kept up, no illegal activity is going on, and that only the people who are supposed to be there are there. There should also be monthly drug tests. Have them give a sample when the inspector comes on the fifteenth of the month, and if it is clean then they can stay in housing and collect other benefits they are probably recieving. Repeat the process each month instead of letting these places become rats nests.

corgimom
36690
Points
corgimom 12/12/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
They do monthly inspections.

They do monthly inspections. You see how well that works.

johnrawllins
0
Points
johnrawllins 12/12/09 - 07:42 am
0
0
I mean, duh, How hard is it

I mean, duh, How hard is it to put unmarked survellience there. The perps arent driving the vehicles there with no engines. GEEZ!

johnrawllins
0
Points
johnrawllins 12/12/09 - 07:44 am
0
0
Billy Dixon doesn't know

Billy Dixon doesn't know wether it is organized, duh

freespeech
0
Points
freespeech 12/12/09 - 07:45 am
0
0
So instead of staking out the

So instead of staking out the neighborhood and catching the thieves you have a big article in the paper to warn them that the police have figured out what is going on. What a bunch of idiots. If stolen cars are turning up there "every morning" why haven't the thieves been caught?

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 12/12/09 - 07:57 am
0
0
Do nightly patrols with lots

Do nightly patrols with lots of officers...that will work. CCTV, mobile check points moved every hour controlling flows of traffic in and out, a very visible posting. That will do it.

mieshel
3
Points
mieshel 12/12/09 - 07:57 am
0
0
It could also be that since

It could also be that since people are so afraid to go into
Cherry Tree, why not store the cars there? Its a dumping ground anyway, so nobody would notice. Men are working on cars in there day and night, no way to tell if it's a stolen car or the owners so the tenants don't care.

johnrawllins
0
Points
johnrawllins 12/12/09 - 08:01 am
0
0
How long ago was Cerry Street

How long ago was Cerry Street "revitalized"!

LBenedict
2
Points
LBenedict 12/12/09 - 08:10 am
0
0
Imagine the outcry from

Imagine the outcry from Cherry Tree residents (guests inperpetuity) and others...Champ, certain area "Reverends"..., and the like, if officers were posted there. We all know what would happen. It's a good idea, but the politically correct crowd will scream and cry if it is implemented.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 08:12 am
0
0
Okay, Augusta needs another

Okay, Augusta needs another junk yard. Why not fence in Cherry Tree, hire the residents as car strippers, provide a good and service and keep the residents on the reservation?

airbud7
1
Points
airbud7 12/12/09 - 08:18 am
0
0
I need a starter for my

I need a starter for my camaro anyone know where i might find a good deal on one

bentman
466
Points
bentman 12/12/09 - 08:20 am
0
0
As usual, I'm sure it's

As usual, I'm sure it's whitey's fault.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 12/12/09 - 08:30 am
0
0
Public housing in itself is

Public housing in itself is an illegal activity! Show me where in the Constitution it says the government has the RIGHT to STEAL my / our money to pay for the housing of those who refuse to take part in the greatest economic system on the planet. It is time to close ALL housing projects, sell the property to developers and use the money received to reduce the National debt. My wife and I work our tails off every week to pay OUR OWN bills, housing and food costs. Why the hell do so many get to lay around and have MY money handed to them????? I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! Change is coming in 2010 and 2012!

cparker
83
Points
cparker 12/12/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
humbleopinion.... Exactly

humbleopinion.... Exactly what is going to change in 2010 & 2012?

corgimom
36690
Points
corgimom 12/12/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
There have been chop shops

There have been chop shops going on in Augusta for years. Just another "dirty little secret" that hasn't ever been a secret.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
cparker, the D.C. level of

cparker, the D.C. level of insanity will be reduced in 2010 and the economic recovery can begin in earnest in 2012. The horrible experiment has been a total disaster and all we can hope for it that it won't be the end of America as a country before 2010.

Riverman1
90449
Points
Riverman1 12/12/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
Brad Owens had the most

Brad Owens had the most logical thought early in the thread. If we know this is the area they bring the stolen cars, have officers there. If we can pull an Augusta Ink sting you mean we can't have undercover officers watching or something? It makes you wonder.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 12/12/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
My wife was wondering if this

My wife was wondering if this incident is part of the "cash for clunkers" Obama used to restore the economy? The Cherry Tree citizens might just be innocent dupes like many of the American citizens.

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