ATLANTA, GA – Theft-related crimes typically fall into one of two categories, one of intent and one of opportunity.
And officials with the Atlanta Police Department are trying to help create awareness to certain practices that may be enabling an increase in auto theft – such as vehicle owners leaving their cars running or having spare keys inside of them.
Police said in the last week of December, 80 percent of all stolen cars were either left running or left with the car keys inside. https://t.co/EZSA37OpFA
— Greg Todd (@GregTodd_) January 26, 2021
According to police records, the final week of December 2020 saw that 80% of all stolen vehicles were taken while the vehicles were left running or had spare keys inside of the vehicle.
As for the onset of 2021, police officials say there’s already been a 40% increase in car thefts this year.
And with regard to car thefts that have transpired thus far in 2021, police say 67% of said stolen vehicles were, once again, instances where the car was left running or there were keys inside of the vehicle.
With the aforementioned practices leaving room for criminals to engage in a crime of opportunity, APD Deputy Chief Timothy Peek is trying to help educate the public on how best to avoid increasing the likelihood of their vehicles being stolen:
“I just want our citizens to search those vehicles and get those extra keys out of those cars. And we don’t want you to, no matter how quick you think you can run inside of a location and run back out, it only takes a split second for a person to get in that vehicle and drive off.”
These sorts of cautions coming from the APD have been ongoing for several months now, as similar sentiments were expressed back in November of 2020.
In a 28-day period that ended on November 14th of 2020, there were a total of 337 cars stolen within the city of Atlanta.
As car thefts surge, Atlanta police urge driver vigilance https://t.co/Ex3CP3b1rt
— AJC (@ajc) November 25, 2020
Towards the end of November, APD Chief Michael O’Connor said that essentially car owners are somewhat giftwrapping these vehicles left either running or with keys inside of them:
“We’re seeing this pattern over and over. I believe roughly 70 percent of vehicles stolen this year have been stolen with the key fob inside.”
One of the more recent car theft incidents in Atlanta showed that not even celebrities are immune to having their vehicle stolen when left unattended.
Atlanta-based actor and rapper Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges had his vehicle stolen on January 25th when he went to run up to an ATM. At approximately 4:40 p.m. on January 25th, Bridges had flag down police noting that someone had sped away in his Mercedes-Benz while he was at the ATM.
Rapper Ludacris has Mercedes-Benz stolen in Atlanta https://t.co/8XQtiJjyvi
— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) January 26, 2021
Police were able to eventually locate Bridges’ vehicle, finding it abandoned in a parking deck located at 1270 Spring St in Midtown. The vehicle at the time was unoccupied and police were able to get the Mercedes-Benz back to Bridges slightly before 10:00 p.m. that evening.
Reportedly no arrests have been made in the case, and Bridges was said to have bee unable to identify the suspect before they sped off in his vehicle.
But the case once again serves as an example to not leave one’s car running – even if one is planning to just quickly use an ATM.
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Speaking of crime in Atlanta, we at Law Enforcement Today reported back in December about how city council and community members embarked upon an endeavor to help form a sort of security initiative to deter crime.
Here’s that previous report.
ATLANTA, GA – Back in June of 2020, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had bragged about being “ahead of the curve,” when it related to “reallocating our public safety.”
Essentially, pointing out that the city has been engaged in a form of police defunding years before the slogan reached national popularity.
When does this happen in #Chicago
— Chicago GOP (@ChicagoGOP) December 30, 2020
Flash forward to December of 2020, and now a collective formed between locals, business owners and more are trying to curtail crime via establishing a sort of private security force.
When emotions were high in the weeks following the death of George Floyd, elected officials across the country were metaphorically racing to say what they believed enablers of the “defund the police” movement wanted to hear.
In early June of 2020, Mayor Bottoms felt as though the city of Atlanta was essentially already entrenched in efforts that would appease those clamoring to defund the police:
“We are ahead of the curve in Atlanta because we are already reallocating our public safety, we are already moving 60 percent roughly out of our corrections budget into that very specific area. So in some areas people are calling it defunding the police, in Atlanta we’ve been doing this work over the past couple of years.”
Yet, in the wake of rising crime in Atlanta – and the recent tragic murder of 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie – the notion of less police in Atlanta isn’t nearly as appealing to many as it was six months earlier.
Atlanta Police to provide update on murder case of young girl hit by stray bullet in Buckhead https://t.co/rteDmIMBbn
— 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) December 29, 2020
This set into motion what’s known as the “Buckhead Security Plan”, which is a $1.62 million project that will be used to supplement the Atlanta Police Department within the commercial and residential Buckhead neighborhood area.
Measures to be employed by the endeavor include establishing more license plate readers, security cameras around the area, as well as additional forces aimed at dealing with “party houses” and drag racing in the area.
Details on the new plan outline that a private security force will function as “a coordinated security patrol consisting of extra-duty officers from the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia State Patrol, and private security firms.”
The Atlanta Police Foundation and the Buckhead Coalition are also encouraging residents to make private donations towards the effort, but a $125,000 collective chip-in has been promised by Atlanta City Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit, Howard Shook, and Matt Westmoreland.
Three Atlanta City Council members representing Buchkead have donated $125,000 to the Buckhead Security Plan, a new initiative to reduce crime in the community. https://t.co/LI6bsi81Cc
— Northside Neighbor (@NorthsideNbr) December 28, 2020
Regarding young Maxie’s recent murder, Councilmember Shook commented on how the rising crime in Atlanta has been getting downplayed by Mayor Bottoms:
“I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick.’ Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere’.”
“Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is…And please, not another throw-away press conference utterly devoid of game-changing action steps.”
Councilmember Westmoreland says that the “Buckhead Security Plan” aims to not only make residents feel secure in their neighborhoods, but also restore police officers’ faith in feeling as though they’re supported:
“Far too many of our residents don’t feel safe, and too many of our men and women in uniform don’t feel supported. This plan aims to change that.”
“Every day, we ask our officers to stand in harm’s way. It’s important for them to know they have our support, and we have their backs.”
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