Area ranks high in vehicle thefts

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Lock the doors, and roll up the windows.

The Augusta area ranks third in the state for automobile thefts -- topping similarly sized cities such as Macon and Savannah, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Nationwide, the Augusta-Richmond County Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Aiken, Edgefield and McDuffie counties, is ranked 55th.

And the past three years indicate it is steadily moving up the list.

There were 2,385 vehicle thefts in 2007, at a rate of 451.26 per 100,000 residents. In two years, the metro area has risen from 98th to 55th in the nation.

Part of the problem, according to Lt. Tony Walden of the Richmond County sheriff's property crime division, is the rising price of scrap metal, which has thieves choosing to scrap cars instead of drive them.

"At one time they would pretty much ride them until they run out of gas, but now we have seen an increase of them being found in salvage yards," Lt. Walden said.

Thieves can take the vehicles to recycling centers and get a fee based on the car's weight, according to sheriff's Investigator Kendall Brown, who tracks metal thefts. If the vehicle is less than 8 years old, the owner must provide the center with its bill of sale and registration.

Otherwise, all they need to show is the registration.

"A typical midsized sedan -- not a truck -- of about 2,000 pounds could fetch somewhere between $300 to $500," Investigator Brown said.

Last month, he recovered a stolen Chevrolet van at a recycling center. The van, which was valued at about $3,500, had been sold for $486 and was scheduled to be crushed for scrap metal.

But metal isn't the only rising commodity that appears to be driving vehicle thefts.

David Colmans, the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service, said increased fuel prices seem to be changing what kind of vehicles thieves target.

Although the insurance crime bureau's ranking only tallies automobile thefts, Mr. Colmans said motorcycle thefts are increasing across Georgia.

"I would caution people who have motorcycles, especially now with gas prices being what they are. Those kind of vehicles are going to be even more in demand," Mr. Colmans said.

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

TOP THEFTS

This ranking is based on 1.2 million motor vehicle thefts reported by law enforcement agencies to the National Crime Information Center in 2004.

GEORGIA

1. 1993 Ford Econoline E150


2. 1998 GMC Jimmy


3. 1995 Jeep Wrangler


4. 2000 Toyota Tacoma


5. 2001 International Harvester Straight Truck

SOUTH CAROLINA

1. 1994 Honda Accord


2. 1997 Ford F150 Series


3. 1996 Ford Explorer


4. 1994 Chevrolet Full Size C/K 1500 Pickup


5. 1989 Chevrolet Caprice

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

Comments (13) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 06/01/08 - 07:23 am
0
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Augusta is known for its huge

Augusta is known for its huge population on government subsidy. This "great idea" trains generations of non-producers with a sense of entitlement. OF COURSE thefts are going to be high in this area. What else are they going to do while waiting for their next government check? Do drugs, make babies and join gangs?

christian134
1
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christian134 06/01/08 - 08:25 am
0
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Congratulations

Congratulations Augusta....You had to rank high on some kind of list...Might as well be this one eh?

bone
23
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bone 06/01/08 - 09:13 am
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how about watching t.v., pt?

how about watching t.v., pt? don't those who are entitled to gov't assistance deserve cable? and internet? THAT'S the solution to the crime problem: give everyone a computer and internet access, then show them the reader comment pages on AC. they'll have a new addiction in no time!

christian134
1
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christian134 06/01/08 - 09:29 am
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That is a fact indeed

That is a fact indeed bone....:-)

motivatedinhepzibah
0
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motivatedinhepzibah 06/01/08 - 02:29 pm
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You people are stupid.

You people are stupid. Augusta is the second biggest city and second biggest metro in georgia. But yet we only rank third in thefts iN the whole state. Augusta counties include richmond, columbia, burke, aiken, edgefield and mcduffie. You just want to bash augusta. So your little county was included in augusta's total.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
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BakersfieldCityLimits 06/01/08 - 03:37 pm
0
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Perhaps the over privliged

Perhaps the over privliged Columbia county residents will consider taking the keys out of their cars and locking them up. Stop contributing to making our community known for thefts and crime.

bone
23
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bone 06/01/08 - 03:54 pm
0
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this over-privileged columbia

this over-privileged columbia county resident parks in his garage. when in augusta, i lock my doors, turn on my anti-theft device, and pray that the denizens of RC remain indoors lest they notice my fine automobile and attempt to purloin said vehicle. i NEVER drive into south augusta and park for any reason (except maybe the occasional stop at sconyer's).

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 06/01/08 - 04:03 pm
0
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bone, I think D1216 was

bone, I think D1216 was referring to the rash of car thefts in Columbia County, that were crimes of opportunity and not actual car break-ins because the thieves were looking for unlocked cars and found plenty of them to steal from. If you have anything of value, anywhere from here to Timbuktu, lock it up or rue the consequences.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 06/01/08 - 04:06 pm
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D1216, I guess I am

D1216, I guess I am overprivileged also. I drive a paid for SL500, 2007 and 2004 Escalade. Live in a paid for house and work all over Augusta. Thieves are everywhere and do not only look for Columbia County tags. They look for a car easy to steal. I always take out my keys and lock the doors.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 06/01/08 - 04:07 pm
0
0
It also says Augusta, GA area

It also says Augusta, GA area which is large.

vickidu52
15
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vickidu52 06/01/08 - 09:41 pm
0
0
Columbia County has a big

Columbia County has a big problem as well. We have security out the wazoo but still had a 4-wheeler driven off that was cabled and locked with a case-hardened steel lock. Didn't stop a thief. Probably the same one who stole from us 2 yrs ago. They turn down our motion lights, sit in the woods and watch us. This is in Sugar Creek and the more neighbors who are interviewed, the more theft we hear of, including cars, 4-wheelers, fishing tackle etc. Makes a hard working person wonder why he works so hard to have anything. Might as well sell out, buy a camper to live in and if it's stolen at least we got a free trip via a thief!

workingmom
0
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workingmom 06/01/08 - 10:33 pm
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Bone and WW1949, apparently I

Bone and WW1949, apparently I too, am "overprivileged" since I live in CC. Little did I know! I just thought I was someone who works hard to help provide for my family and wants to live in a nice subdivision where things such as this are not a common day occurrence. Fortunately, I have never felt threatened by thieves but I am not naive enough to think it couldn't happen. The only time I had to report crimes at my home was when I lived in Richmond County. That's exactly why I chose to move. And I never leave my keys in a vehicle, D1216.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 06/02/08 - 07:50 am
0
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no use giving them internet,

no use giving them internet, or cable because for the internet you have to be able to read, cable just give them one channel and that is bet/mtv and they will be fine

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