Police: Thieves targeting older model cars in SW Atlanta

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:

ATLANTA - Neighbors in Southwest Atlanta are frustrated after a spike in car thefts.

Atlanta police said thefts more than doubled for the month of December in the Capitol View and Sylvan Hills neighborhoods, compared to the same month in 2011.

Someone stole Taiasha Reese's minivan early New Year's morning from right in front of her home on Manford Road.

She told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri she didn't notice it was gone until later that day.

"A family member said, ‘Hey, does your mom have the car already?’ (I said) ‘No the keys are right here. Why?’ ‘Car's not out there,’" Reese said.

The mother of four has relied on neighbors to get her kids to school. She showed Viteri pictures of her totaled Chrysler after police found it a few days later.

"The battery's gone. The radio's gone. Everything. Actually we've only had the car three months," Reese said.

Neighbor Dorothy O'Connor said she started her car in front of her home on Fairbanks Street around 11 a.m. She said she went inside for just a minute when her boyfriend saw someone taking the car.

"He stepped on the front porch and saw somebody in my car and a white car behind mine," O'Connor said.

Police found Roberta Caban's Saturn after thieves stole it from her house, after they tried unsuccessfully to take a car parked in front of her next-door neighbor's home.

"So they literally went from one house to the very next house," Caban explained.

Lt. Michael O'Connor with Atlanta police's auto theft task force said investigators are taking steps to deal with the problem.

"We've had some issues with older model vehicles being stolen. We believe some of that is for profit, either to chop the vehicles up or to have the vehicles recycled,"  O’Conner said.

One of the biggest challenges, according to O'Connor, is how quickly thieves are able to steal certain cars.

"They know they're going to do it so quickly you almost can't do anything about it," he added.

Police said they use things like license plate readers and bait cars to try to catch thieves. They also inspect auto maintenance businesses to make sure they're not operating as chop shops.

O'Connor said the task force works closely with the Zone 3 Commander to increase patrols and enforce curfews in the neighborhood.

According to Atlanta police, despite the spike in thefts at the end of the year, auto thefts were down overall in 2012.



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