Hot spot for most stolen vehicles in Fayette: PTC*


Once every two and a half days in Fayette County, on average, somebody’s car, truck or golf cart goes missing, according to figures compiled by local law enforcement agencies.

And most of those vehicle thefts happen in Peachtree City, the figures show, with one big caveat.

While Fayette County is known for its low crime rate, less recognized is the steady rate of vehicle heists — 453 various types of motorized vehicles were stolen somewhere in Fayette County during the years of 2008 through 2010.

A year-by-year breakdown of the thefts of all types of vehicles countywide showed 149 stolen in 2008, 169 thefts in 2009 and 135 in 2010, for a total of 453 vehicles.

The thefts reported during the 2008-2010 period included cars, pickups, vans, golf carts, motorcycles, dirt bikes, tractor-trailers, four-wheelers and construction equipment. All considered, that means that some type of vehicle was stolen somewhere in the county every 2.4 days.

While there is often no discernible geographic pattern related to the thefts, it is clear that thieves many times prefer Hondas, SUVs and pickup trucks.

Specific to jurisdiction, there were 110 vehicle thefts in unincorporated Fayette County during the three years, 225 in Peachtree City (with the majority being golf carts), 105 in Fayetteville and 13 in Tyrone.

The Citizen reviewed the thefts of various types of vehicles throughout Fayette County during the three-year time period. That review shows that while many of the vehicles were recovered, there are a significant number of others with cases that remain unsolved.

By way of explanation it should be noted that not all reports of thefts turn out to be a case where the vehicle is removed from property. In some cases what is initially reported as the theft of a car, truck, motorcycle turns out to be something different, such as repossessions, a vehicle “borrowed” by a family member or a vehicle, such as in the case of golf carts, taken for a “joy ride” then abandoned.

Unincorporated Fayette County experienced 110 thefts of cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, dump trucks, four-wheelers and dirt bikes throughout the county. Of those, 35 were recovered.

It was also noteworthy that approximately 30 other vehicles stolen in other counties were found in Fayette County.

A year-by-year check showed 31 vehicle-related thefts in 2008, 50 in 2009 and 29 in 2010.

A breakdown of the types of vehicles stolen showed no preference among vehicles thieves, except that 39 of those stolen were either SUVs or pickups, and no discernible geographic pattern to the thefts.

In Peachtree City, police reported 225 total thefts during the past three years, including 41 passenger vehicle or motorcycle thefts and 183 golf cart thefts.

Of the 41 vehicle thefts, 13 occurred in 2008, 19 in 2009 and 10 in 2010, with the majority being stolen from residences.

Honda vehicles were the most frequently sought, with nine of the brand stolen during the three years, followed by Ford models with seven thefts and Chevrolet at six.

Of the total thefts, approximately 75 percent were four-door sedans.

And of the 41 total thefts, 20 were recovered.

There is both good news and bad in terms of the number of golf carts stolen in Peachtree City. The bad news is that there were 183 golf carts stolen during the three-year period. The good news is that all but four were recovered.

Some of the recoveries are made after the golf cart is stolen for a joy ride and runs out of juice, said department spokesperson Rosanna Dove.

A breakdown by year showed 65 thefts in 2008, 65 in 2009 and 53 in 2010. The thefts occurred at businesses, shopping centers, residences and at McIntosh High School.

Fayetteville Police for 2008-2010 period reported 105 total thefts. Those numbers included cars and pickups, recreational vehicles, trailers, motorcycles and tractor-trailers. A breakdown by the year showed 36 total thefts in 2008, 32 in 2009 and 37 in 2010.

Car thieves in Fayetteville also showed a proclivity for Hondas, with 34 of that make stolen during the three-year period. Of the Hondas stolen, the preferred model was the Civic, with 19 stolen, followed by the Accord, of which 11 were stolen.

Fayetteville Police Det. Jeff Harris said some of the thefts might be linked to a group of individuals working in concert to steal the vehicles.

And those stealing the vehicles were not overly particular about the location from which the vehicles were stolen. Those locations included residences, strip shopping centers, churches, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, stand-alone businesses and the Fayette Pavilion where approximately two dozen of the vehicles were stolen.

There is an incorrect perception that criminal activity of all kinds in Fayetteville is largely due to the presence of the Fayette Pavilion, police have noted.

The 1.53 million square-foot Fayette Pavilion shopping area does bring untold thousands of shoppers to the city, along with a wealth of sales tax revenues to Fayette County. In terms of size and by way of comparison, the expansive Mall of Georgia is listed as having 1.78 million square feet.

For law enforcement criminal tracking purposes, vehicle theft is considered a Part 1 (serious) crime. Statewide data for 2009, the most recent year available, showed that all Part 1 crimes at the Fayette Pavilion have been decreasing for the past six years, according to Chief Steve Heaton.

Nineteen of the vehicles stolen in Fayetteville during the period were recovered.

And in Tyrone, police reported four vehicle-related thefts in 2008, three in 2009 and six in 2010. The thefts included cars, trucks and a cargo van along with two tractor-trailers and two trailers. There was no discernible pattern as to the location or type of vehicle stolen.

Preferences of vehicle thieves varies from state to state. In Georgia, some data loss websites list the Honda Accord and Civic as the most stolen vehicles in the state, followed by the Ford F150 Pickup, the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee and, at number five, the Chevrolet 4×2 pickup.

According to the Highway Data Loss Institute the most stolen vehicle in America during the past three years is the Cadillac Escalade followed by the Ford F-250 crew-cab 4WD, the Infiniti G37, the Dodge Charger HEMI. And nine of the top 10 stolen vehicles nationwide were either pickups or SUVs.