Auto Theft Task Force
The Fulton/Atlanta Multi-Jurisdictional Auto-Theft Task Force was formed in October 2011. It consists of officers from the Fulton County and City of Atlanta Police departments along with prosecutors and investigators with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. The goal of the task force is to combat the rising number of auto-thefts in and around Fulton County. According to statistics from the FBI, Atlanta ranks fourth in the nation for the number of auto thefts each year. In 2011, fewer than 25% of vehicles stolen in the city of Atlanta were recovered. In many instances, those unrecovered vehicles were sold to local recyclers for scrap metal, an emerging auto theft trend.
Taking aim at this new trend, District Attorney Howard spearheaded an initiative dubbed “Operation: Heavy Metal.” After months of criminal investigation, the Task Force indicted en mass 96 defendants in March 2012 on charges related to the theft and subsequent sale of 300 vehicles for scrap metal. As part of the scrap metal scheme, thieves target and steal cars that are at least twelve years old. Once stolen, the vehicles are then taken to a recycling facility and sold for scrap metal for a profit ranging from $500-800 on average. The sale itself is legal under Georgia law which allows a car to be sold for scrap without a title as long as it is a least twelve years old. One presenting a car for sale to a recycler need only produce a drivers’ license and a ‘Cancellation of Title’ for scrap vehicles, certifying the seller is either the owner or authorized agent of the owner. The ‘pseudo’ owner is then paid for the vehicle leaving the legitimate owner without much recourse as the vehicles are usually crushed immediately.
District Attorney Howard has pledged his on-going commitment to the investigation and prosecution of all types of auto-theft recognizing the crime as a quality-of-life issue impacting citizens of Fulton County in a meaningful way.