Forty three burglaries in Albany since storm

Albany Police Chief Michael Persley says there have been 43 burglaries since the Jan. 2 storm, but that they been throughout the city and not just in storm-damaged areas. (Albany Herald file photo)

ALBANY — Forty-three burglaries have been reported across Albany since a catastrophic storm struck the city on January 2 causing widespread damage and power outages for thousands of residents.

The damage was so extensive that GEMA officials have reached out to federal agencies saying that the disaster is beyond the scope of local resources and is beyond state resources as well.

Emergency responders have worked around the clock for almost two weeks stretching city resources thin and with homes damaged, no electricity and extreme cold weather for several days, many residents have been displaced seeking refuge in hotels, with family members or in community shelters providing opportunity for potential burglars.

According to Chief Michael Persley of the Albany Police Department, burglaries have occurred all across Albany and not just in storm-ravaged areas.

“One thing that people need to look at is that when you look at the number of burglaries, that number is all across the city,” Persley said. “Some of these burglaries did not occur in the storm affected areas, but yet they still occurred.”

As crews work to clean up, repair and secure the city, Persley encouraged citizens to report any suspicious activity.

“If you see something, let us know. Anyone who has experienced attempted break-ins or actual burglaries, definitely call us,” the police chief said. “You don’t have to leave your name if you don’t want to. Just point us in the right direction, so we can go out and do some investigating.

“I do know there have been some reported burglaries in the storm-affected areas. We do know that there are people out there who are looking to take advantage, not just at night time, but also during the day. So, people need to be mindful that some of the people who are there to help you clean up your house, they may come back to clean out your house.”

Persley suggested that anyone whose home cannot be properly secured should make other arrangements to protect their valuables.

“Those people who have houses that are damaged and it is hard to secure them, you may want to take your valuables out and locate them in another place, perhaps at a relative’s house, a friend’s house or maybe another secure location.” Persley said. “Whatever you can save, definitely save that while you are getting your house fixed. Some of these houses are going to require an extensive period of repair and people are going to have to relocate.”

Persley also suggested that residents have proper records of personal items, which will help in the recovery process if there is a burglary.

“One of the things that we need everyone to do is when you notice something is missing, make sure you have the serial number or you have some good documentation,” Persley said. “This is for insurance purposes, for their own records and so we can put the information into the G.C.I.C. (Georgia Crime Information Center) so, if items are found, then it is reported stolen.

“If you don’t have serial numbers, it complicates the issue. I can’t put just a 55 inch flat screen T.V. into G.C.I.C. If you don’t have the serial number, we don’t know who it belongs to. And mainly, if you see things, something suspicious, speak up. If you don’t speak up, you may be potentially a victim next time.”

Forty three burglaries in Albany since storm

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards addresses local officals to announce his office’s intent to prosecute anyone convicted of burglary or theft by deception during the community’s recent state of emergency to the fullest extent allowed by law. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

At a call-to-action meeting on Thursday, Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards addressed the issue of burglaries that have occurred during storm recovery efforts.

“While we have a great volume of our citizens and persons here who are going to be doing what’s right, there’s a small percentage of folks and to that small percentage of folks that I’m talking to, every enhancement is going to be sought if you’re convicted of any crime involving burglary,” Edwards said. “Any crime involving taking property by deception, any practices that have been illegal that are engaged in by those persons, we’re going to prosecute you fully.

“If we are successful in prosecuting them, every enhancement and punishment is going to be sought by the district attorney’s office in these circumstances.”

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I am primarily the public safety reporter, but also cover a variety of other news events and special features. I am a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Philosophy and have been with the Herald since April of 2016.

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