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Number of stolen vehicles drops in Richmond County

Friday, July 11, 2014 6:56 PM
Last updated Saturday, July 12, 2014 12:43 AM
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Jasmine Davis awoke Wednesday morning to her best friend frantically shaking her arm. It wasn’t until she looked out the window that she also felt a punch to the gut.

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This 2000 Jaguar XK8 was reported stolen and subsequently found stripped of its wheels, hood and engine. Cpt. Steve Morris said once a vehicle has been recovered, it is usually towed for safekeeping until the owner can be contacted.  TRAVIS HIGHFIELD/STAFF
TRAVIS HIGHFIELD/STAFF
This 2000 Jaguar XK8 was reported stolen and subsequently found stripped of its wheels, hood and engine. Cpt. Steve Morris said once a vehicle has been recovered, it is usually towed for safekeeping until the owner can be contacted.

The small patch of road where her prized 1997 Honda Accord had been parked the night before was empty. The 23-year-old Augusta resident’s car had been stolen.

Feelings of violation and fear quickly turned to anger, Davis said.

“I don’t have a car anymore,” Davis recalled saying to herself. “I just got that car and I’m still paying for it.”

Davis’ sedan is one of more than 404 vehicles reported stolen in Richmond County so far this year. That number might seem high, but deputies have reported 84 fewer thefts through the first six months of 2014 than in the same span last year.

In all, 1,063 cars were reported stolen in Richmond County in 2013.

The decline in thefts could be the result of the new zone system implemented by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in May, Sgt. Michael McDaniel said. The zone model eliminated 35 beats the county had operated under during previous administrations.

Just one month into the new plan, the department has reported less than half of the number of thefts in June than it did a year prior. In 2013, there were 114 thefts, compared to just 55 this year.

“You’re actually seeing more deputies on the street, as well as having more deputies focusing on the area that we’re now finding to be a problem spot,” he said.

The decline in thefts mirrors a national trend, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s uniform crime reports.

In 2012, law enforcement agencies reported an estimated 721,053 motor vehicle thefts, with another motor vehicle stolen every 44 seconds. Though the number rose less than one percent from the year prior, the report shows a 24.8 percent decline in thefts since 2008.

Numbers for 2013 have not yet been made available by the FBI.

Georgians seem to be particularly susceptible to vehicle thefts. The state ranks sixth in the nation in the number of vehicles stolen, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site. California and Texas hold on to the top two spots, followed by Florida, New York and Illinois.

Unlike its neighbor, numbers in Columbia County have remained somewhat stagnant. There have been 49 thefts reported so far in 2014, one less than what was reported in the first six months of 2013.

Without dramatic shifts in either direction, Capt. Steve Morris said, the department can focus on educating motorists on how to prevent more thefts in the future. One message the department would like to send is to keep valuables at home, he said.

“If we see someone, for example, in a parking lot leaving their vehicle unsecured we’ll remind them to secure that vehicle and to stow away any valuables so that nothing is in plain sight,” he said.

Learning to prevent thefts couldn’t come at a better time of the year. According to the NHTSA Web site, July and August are the two worst months for vehicle thefts annually.

Morris said once a vehicle is recovered, it is usually towed for safekeeping until the owner can be contacted. In some cases, the owner will pick up the vehicle where it is recovered.

Such was the case for Davis, whose car was recovered hours later.

Though the NHTSA estimates only about 54 percent of stolen vehicles are ever returned, Davis’ car was returned after a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, engaged in a car pursuit and secured the vehicle after it wrecked in a parking lot.

“It’s fixable, but the parts are so expensive,” said Davis, referencing the vehicle’s damaged steering column and front end. “I don’t know what I could do different. I thought I was safe then.”

VEHICLE THEFTS IN RICHMOND COUNTY (FIRST SIX MONTHS)

2014

January - 65

February - 74

March - 68

April - 65

May - 77

June - 55

2013

January - 76

February - 71

March - 63

April - 83

May - 81

June - 114

Source: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

PREVENT FUTURE THEFTS

• Take your key. Don’t leave it in or on your vehicle.

• Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.

• Park in well-lit areas.

• Keep your vehicle in your garage, if possible.

• Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen.

• Never leave the area while your vehicle is running.

• Protect your vehicle with an antitheft/immobilizer device.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Comments (3) Add comment
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rebellious
22861
Points
rebellious 07/11/14 - 11:24 pm
5
0
You Know What???

Hats off to RCSD for these results. Not to lefthand the compliment, but statistics can be a mother. They can give and they can take. Either way, good results. As one who never had a car stolen, I cannot relate to the relief. Crime prevention is a strange phenomena in that you seldom get praise for things which did not happen. More often the crime committed gets all the attention. I attribute my lack of car theft to one bad azz dog and a security system which alerts armed guards (me) when a perimeter is breached. But thanks all the same.

nocnoc
69822
Points
nocnoc 07/12/14 - 06:44 am
2
1
Give RCSO its due but

I would love to give RCSO credit and I have many times over the years for accomplishments. But in the case of Vehicle Thefts they are down Nationally. Yes several analysis of the past 10 years of auto theft data have found a overall continued decline in auto theft.

While Zone enforcement is a welcome new concept, instead of having 4 cars patrol from Gate 5 to the Airport to McBean and Blythe, roughly 1/3 of ARC covered by 4 cars. Nationally Newer cars are being commonly factory equipped with harder to defeat anti-theft technology and engine computer shutdown abilities. This is more likely the major reason Auto thefts are declining, not just the new ARC Zone Enforcement.

Here are the most stolen vehicles as reported by the NICB:
You will note a majority are older models with less Anti-Theft devices.
Honda Accord 1990-1997 (1 example used in this article)
Honda Civic 1990-2000
Ford F-150 1997, 1999, 2000-2008
Chev 1500 1992-1997, 1999-2001, 2003- 2004, 2007
Toyota Camry 1989-1991
Dodge Caravan 1997-2003

NOTE: remember recently on the South Side we had a pair of Thugs stealing F150 and C1500 Pickups to do Smash & Grabs of stores.

Summary:
So looking at the bigger picture, the ARC decrease in Auto-Thefts has paralleled the national trend. A trend that shows auto thefts dropped by 3.2 percent in 2013 based on preliminary estimates from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

BTW:
Georgia has ranked in the top 10 nationally for years.

seenitB4
129085
Points
seenitB4 07/12/14 - 07:45 am
2
2
What a difference---

countyman can you explain this??

Unlike its neighbor, numbers in Columbia County have remained somewhat stagnant. There have been 49 thefts reported so far in 2014, one less than what was reported in the first six months of 2013.

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