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Car thefts expected to decrease as heat drops

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Law enforcement officials are predicting a gradual decrease in car thefts in the next few months.

In four out of the past five years, summer was a peak time for car thefts. This year, May and June were two of the three most active months for car thefts.

In 2007, June, July and August topped the year, with more than 200 thefts each. Thefts peaked in July, with 238, and gradually decreased afterward.

However, not all years have followed the typical model. In 2009, unlike the three years before it, thefts during the summer months were actually lower. The top months in 2009 were October, January and September.

Augusta law enforcement said there is usually an uptick in automobile theft when the weather is the warmest and the coldest.

"There's a noticeable increase in those months when school's not in session," said Richmond County's sheriff Sgt. Ken Eskew.

Many of the summer car thefts are "crimes of opportunity." There's also an uptick in the number of juvenile car theft suspects and juvenile arrests for theft during the summer, Eskew said.

The targets are often vehicles with keys left inside, he said.

Investigator Billy Dixon calls it "borrowing the car illegally."

Teens are hanging out. They're hot. They're bored. They want to go somewhere, but don't have a way.

They see a car with the keys in the ignition.

Many are drive and dump cases, where vehicles are found abandoned, across town, in less than 24 hours.

"I'm not blaming teenagers," Eskew said. "If you talk to 1,000 teenagers about crime, you may see five to 10 percent are involved in it."

In the colder months, drivers often leave their cars running unattended to warm the interior.

"How long does it take someone to steal your car when it's already running?" Dixon said. "Not long."

While investigators may be able to locate the stolen vehicle, finding the person responsible after the vehicle's been abandoned is more difficult.

"Materials in your car are not conductive to prints," Eskew said.

Burglar alarms can be effective, but more people are becoming numb to the alert.

"If you hear an alarm going off in a parking lot, you might look around but you keep walking," Dixon said.

More new vehicles come equipped with remote starts on the key fob to enable warm-up without being vulnerable to theft, Eskew said.

Stolen vehicle assistance, provided by OnStar, is a way of pinpointing its location and disabling it.

Keyless ignition vehicles are often harder to steal, Eskew noted.

Although the thief might destroy the steering column trying to get it started, the attempt is usually unsuccessful.

Vehicle Thefts By Month
January 158169162150167
February 13195127125113
March 140161124131140
April 121121144184169
May 181114151207137
June 141147161218157
July N/A118130238195
August --149137235161
September --168118209176
October --186163206189
November --119148152151
December --127128126170

Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office Monthly Crime Statistics

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Runner46 08/13/10 - 07:34 am
I don't know why Augusta does

I don't know why Augusta does not follow the police department in the larger cities. Bait cars would put an end to the temptation to steal someone's car, left running or not.

KSL 08/13/10 - 08:40 am
Aren't statistics

Aren't statistics wonderful.

Not. They do not take into account car theft rings like the one that was operating in Columbia, SC, when my son was at USC.

KSL 08/13/10 - 08:42 am
How the whatever was that a

How the whatever was that a double post?

baronvonreich 08/13/10 - 10:29 am
countyman - how much is crime

countyman - how much is crime in Augusta decreasing again?

disssman 08/13/10 - 10:32 am
I used to keep one of those

I used to keep one of those padded cushions in my truck. The difference was it had hidden reshapreded nails attached and waiting for an idiot to sit down. I also had some treble hooks on leader wire under the dash waiting for an idiot to put his hand under it to steal the stereo. Didn't catch anyone but it made me feel sure the crook would leave the vehicle alone.

themaninthemirror 08/13/10 - 11:57 am
Someone stole my disabled

Someone stole my disabled vehicle from the side of the interstate on June 30 of this year. I had to leave my car overnight between the exit 175 and exit 172 in McDufffie County and when I went back to retrieve it the next day it was gone.
I filed a stolen vehicle report and did some investigating on my own to find it. I have not yet recovered the vehicle, but what I have found out is mind blowing.
Anyone can show up at a recycling center with a vehicle to sell as scrap, and the recycling center does not require any proof of ownership from the individual. They do not have to have a tile, tag receipt, insurance policy, or anything to indicate they are the owner of the vehicle.
The recycling centers do issue what they call a "bill of sale" to the individual, showing they purchased the vehicle for scrap. They do put the vehicle identification number on the bill of sale along with the personal information that is provided to them by the individual. However, they are not required to provide this information to law enforcement on a regular basis. One recycling center I visited does not even keep computerized records. They pointed to a stack of reciepts on the corner of a desk and wanted to take my information and said they would contact me if they found they had purchased the vehicle. I am sure they were concerned enough to spend the rest of the afternoon going through those receipts.
Laws need to be enacted requiring recycling centers to:
1. Require some form of proof of ownership of any vehicle brought in, regardless of age or condition.

2. They should be required to submit records of all vehicles purchased to law enforcement.

3. There should be a mandatory waiting period of at least 45 days before they can begin the process of dismantling the vehicle for scrap purposes.

My vehicle was a 1995 Ford Taurus, that only had minor cosmetic blemishes. I had done mechanical work that restored the running of the vehicle, and it was only a minor problem that caused the breakdown. It is sad to think this vehicle is now just a crushed pile of metal somewhere.

Taylor B
Taylor B 08/13/10 - 01:57 pm
I work on VW/Audis. If you

I work on VW/Audis. If you want to steal one of those, better get a wrecker. There is NO WAY around the rolling code immobilizer. I've been trying to figure out a way for years for motor swap project cars, and its the best anti theft system out there....

usafvet 08/13/10 - 08:03 pm
It may be the best anti theft

It may be the best anti theft system, but more cases of would be thief shot to death would be a good deterrent. People need to be alert when in parking lots of those wandering through looking in windows. Call the police. Observant persons could be the thief's demise. If he walks like a thief, looks like a thief, he may be a thief. BE ALERT. BE ARMED.

countyman 08/14/10 - 04:59 am
Baronvonreich did you even

Baronvonreich did you even read the article or look at the stats? I know you love to be negative on anything dealing with Augusta..... Several months in 2010 are lower than the same month in 2006-2009... In June 2010 for example there were less thefts than June 2006, June 2007, June 2008, and June 2009....

The chronicle only usually includes Columbia County when it's about new construction... Because we know there have been several car thefts in Columbia County and Aiken County between 2006-2010....

Fawkes 08/15/10 - 09:40 am
Maybe some of the drop is due

Maybe some of the drop is due to less Cutlass Cieras on the road, if you own one of those it will be stolen, maybe more then once.

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