Special police detail pays off in first year

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY, Ga. -- In operation for nine months now, the Albany Police Department Special Detail has returned more than $109,000 worth of stolen goods to victims.

The detail went into action June 25 with the intention of gathering information, finding the highest crime areas and assisting all police divisions in an effort to fight crime in those areas.

The members of the detail gave a presentation to the monthly meeting of the Gang Task Force Thursday in the Government Center.

"We know the areas of the highest concentration of crimes," said Cpl. Gary Price, unit spokesman. "And based on analysis we know the times and method of entry into buildings. So we are out there looking for them."

The detail works undercover to find the thieves, arrest them and return the flat-screen televisions, electronic games and other stolen property. According to statistics from the police Crime Analysis Unit, efforts have reduced burglaries about 21 percent across the city in the past year.

Since Jan. 1, the detail has made 25 arrests -- 13 for burglary, and returned more than $5,000 worth of stolen goods.

Price said that juveniles skip school, watch for people to go to work and then break in the homes. Of the 55 people arrested, Price said at least 70 percent were juveniles.

"Adults are teaching juveniles how to break in homes," Price said. "One 15-year-old would wait until his mother went to sleep and then practice breaking locks."

With the other members of his unit -- Sgt. Pritesh Patel and officer Jameel Gulley -- Price showed slides of various stolen goods and weapons they seized, such as a shotgun and an SKS assault-style rifle.

Chairing the meeting, police Deputy Chief Nathaniel Clark said, "We must do more than eradicate, we must educate. This is our city and we must not allow those who lurk our streets to define who we are. We must all stand up and say we don't want them here anymore."