Fulton County Multi-Jurisdictional Burglary Task Force
Fulton County’s first Multi-Jurisdictional Burglary Task Force was formed in 2009 under the direction of District Attorney Howard. The initial goal of the initiative was to reduce burglaries throughout the County by 30-percent over the course of two years. The anti-burglary collaborative experienced early success in its infancy. In February 2010, the Task Force busted a two million dollar internet-based burglary ring. Three suspects were arrested for stealing high-end appliances from homes and selling them online for a fraction of their worth. The Task Force is comprised of officers from eight law enforcement agencies in Fulton County including the Alpharetta, Atlanta, East Point, Fulton County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs police departments in addition to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office. The burglary reduction strategy includes a public awareness campaign that centers on the theme, ‘Had Enough Already?’ capitalizing on the sentiment of weary residents and business owners who have collectively grown tired of burglaries and the emotional and financial toll the crime has exacted on the community. In partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation and Crime Stoppers Atlanta, reward money in increments up to $2,000 is offered for credible burglary tips or information regarding stolen property. Initial funding for the Task Force came from a $200,000 federal grant.
Fulton/Atlanta Multi-Jurisdictional 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 masse 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.