Precinct 2 PENS August 2023
Welcome to the August edition of the PENS Bulletin brought to you by the Cobb County Police Criminal Investigations Unit at Precinct Two.
Crime Prevention Tips
For a crime to occur, three factors must be present: desire, ability, and opportunity. You can significantly impact opportunity and reduce crime by following these simple crime prevention tips.
Rental scams are schemes where someone attempts to defraud you of money under the guise of offering you a rental. The scam can be orchestrated in different ways, although the consistent theme is that a person posing as a legitimate landlord or property agent attempts to get you to sign a lease and send money. In reality, there is no rental, or the person who "leased" you the rental doesn't own it or have the right to lease it.
5 Signs of a Rental Scam
The following signs are red flags that a rental listing or rental agent is trying to scam you:
- Rental Pictures Look Too Good to Be True
Chances are you've run into a property ad at some point showing a beautifully renovated rental at a price well below the market average. If a listing looks too good for the price, it likely is. Always ask to see the property before signing a lease or paying a deposit.
- Rental Listing Has Errors
A scammer may create listings that have grammatical errors and other formatting errors. USA.gov says to look for inconsistencies in the text of rental ads—such as the overuse of uppercase letters—because these are red flags of housing scams.
- You're Pressured to Lease Right Away
A legitimate landlord or rental agent will be accommodating when you want to see a space before renting it with your hard-earned money. If an agent is pressing you to sign a contract without seeing the rental, that should raise suspicion. The agent may not want to meet with you because the property is not actually for rent, or they need the authority to rent it out.
- You're Asked for Money Upfront
A landlord or representative working for the property owner shouldn't charge you a fee to tour a property. Someone could be attempting to take your money and run if there is a fee. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that a request to wire money is a major red flag of rental scams. Money sent through Western Union or gift cards can be hard to reverse and trace, and that's why scammers use them as a payment method of choice.
- There's No Credit Check Involved
Landlords and rental companies often do a credit check before leasing a place to determine if a renter is creditworthy. While some places might not require a credit check, you should be careful to vet the rental agent and ensure they're not taking advantage of your need for housing by offering a fictitious home with lenient eligibility requirements.
How to Avoid Rental Scams
Finding a new place to live is stressful, and you may be motivated to choose a place quickly to get situated as soon as possible. However, taking extra time to screen a rental can help you avoid getting swindled. Here are some ways to avoid rental scams:
Always request a tour. Only rent a home after seeing it. Schedule a time to tour the place to ensure it exists and confirm it looks like the advertisement.
Skip listings that look suspicious. Scroll past spam listings and be skeptical of listings priced below market for the area based on size and upgrades.
Ask to speak to the property owner. People posing as a representative of the owner could rent out a home without their permission. Asking to meet the property owner at home could help you avoid a scam.
Don't send money. Only send money by wire if the landlord comes up with an elaborate story as to why they can't handle the deal in person. If you're making a cross-country move, consider holding off on the house hunt until you arrive.
What to Do if You Suspect You've Been Scammed
If you suspect you've fallen victim to a rental scam and you've sent money by check or wire, contact your bank immediately to see if you can stop payment. Next, you can file a complaint with your local police station, the FBI, or the FTC.
If you've given the scammer sensitive information about yourself, such as your Social Security number, consider setting up a fraud alert on your credit reports to get a notification if someone tries to apply for credit under your name.
Precinct 2 Year-to-Date Statistics
We work hard in the uniform and detective bureaus to keep our community safe. We need your help. Call 911 to report suspicious activity, register your cameras, and lock your vehicles when parked. Small steps can make a big difference.
A Crisis Has No Schedule
Help is available 24/7 for problems with developmental disabilities, mental health, drugs, or alcohol.
Call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 or visit georgiacollaborative.com.
Community Affairs Unit
The Community Affairs Unit seeks to effectively engage the community and citizens to strengthen Public Safety and community partnerships, facilitate a joint effort in solving problems that affect our community, and foster enhanced trust, communication, transparency, and mutual respect. Officers work with homeowner’s associations, community organizations, advocacy groups, public and private schools, faith-based organizations, and individual residents to promote mutually beneficial partnerships. As a result of these working partnerships, the officers are able to develop proactive crime-fighting projects that are jointly undertaken by Department personnel and citizens.
Crime Trends in South Cobb
Ladies and Gentlemen, our current crime trends continue to be Entering Autos and Motor Vehicle Theft. The bulk of the Entering Autos and Auto Theft are taking place overnight and early in the morning. The majority of all the Entering Autos have been UNLOCKED vehicles with valuables including guns left inside. PLEASE remove all valuables especially guns from your vehicles every time you park and leave the vehicle. During these Entering Autos, we had several vehicles that were also stolen. Additionally, the incidents of stolen autos are also trending up. We see vehicles being stolen in a variety of ways, including numerous Kia, Hyundai, and Hondas being taken from apartment complexes.
If you observe someone breaking into vehicles do not approach them and immediately call 911. From a safe place, provide 911 with an accurate description of the suspects, involved vehicles, and what direction the suspect is going. No property is worth getting hurt over.
Precinct Two Heroes at Work
On March 16, 2023, Precinct Two Day Watch units were dispatched to an armed robbery incident that had occurred earlier in the morning at the Guest Inn. A subject in Room 202 stated he was preparing food in his room (he stated he normally does this and gives to the food away to occupants of other rooms) when a male and female came into the room. He recognized them as occupants of another room at the location. The male suspect produced a firearm and the female grabbed the victim’s bookbag containing cash, clothing, and other personal items. Both then fled the room. A preliminary investigation was conducted, and while the primary officer was waiting for a manager to arrive to view surveillance footage, a vehicle drove by the officer and the victim. The victim told the officer that the male passenger was the person who robbed him. When the officer caught up to this vehicle in his patrol vehicle, the female driver parked the vehicle at the rear of the building, and the male suspect exited the vehicle and fled on foot. After a successful Taser deployment, the suspect was caught by officers and found to have a firearm (later found to be reported stolen), and a sizeable amount of marijuana. Once the male suspect was identified, it was discovered that he had multiple active arrest warrants and was a convicted felon.
A search warrant was executed on Room 206, identified as the room the suspects stayed in. A female matching the description of the female suspect in the armed robbery was found to be in this room and detained. The search warrant yielded a firearm that was hidden behind a bed. The female was identified as indeed being the suspect and charged with party to a crime and other offenses.
On May 5, 2023, officers took a report of a stolen auto at the QT on Riverside Pkwy. The stolen vehicle traveled to Thornton Rd and fled from Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputies. A short time later, officers discovered the vehicle on Hwy 278. The vehicle fled again, and officers went in service but continued to follow the vehicle. Powder Springs PD was in the area and began to pursue the vehicle. Cobb officers assisted momentarily, and the vehicle quickly crashed into the grass. Officers attempted a PIT to keep the vehicle in the grass and prevent it from re-entering the roadway. The vehicle temporarily returned to the roadway and then crashed into a wooded area. The driver did not comply, and two less lethal rounds were deployed into the vehicle window. The driver then complied and was taken into custody. Cobb vehicles were not damaged outside of a tiny dent. The driver was charged accordingly.
The same night, Morning Watch Officers responded to an address for a report of an armed male who had pistol-whipped his wife in the head. As officers responded, the victim, her older daughter, and a small child fled the home as instructed by the 911 operator. Officers later found that there was a 12-year-old female that was not allowed to leave the home by the armed male. The male was said to have told the victim that he would “shoot it out” with police when they arrived.
Once on scene, officers established a perimeter on the home. One of the victims sustained a laceration to her head from her husband during a domestic argument. Working with the older daughter, we contacted the 12-year-old via cell phone and had her leave the home. The suspect let the child leave. Officers then turned their attention to the male suspect, who exited the home without further violence. Once the suspect was in custody, he was arrested and transported to ADC. A search warrant was obtained to secure the firearm left in the home by the suspect.
On June 20, 2023, Morning Watch officers responded to a location for a report of a suspicious vehicle and male by the back fence of the business. When officers arrived, a male fitting the description was seen running from the woods and returning to the vehicle. The vehicle then drove backward down the road for about 400 ft before it crashed into a tree.
The suspect exited the vehicle and ran on foot. Officers quickly divided areas of responsibility and located the suspect behind some homes in the area. The suspect was found to be on parole, had possession of firearms, and had warrants for his arrest for burglary. In addition, the suspect was found to possess power tools that belonged to the business and tools that he used to cut the back fence. The suspect later admitted to the crime and was transported to ADC without incident.
On July 12, 2023, while investigating a drive-by shooting, 911 dispatch advised of a stolen vehicle on Mableton Pkwy. Northside units located the vehicle traveling north on Floyd Road approaching Austell Road. Officers coordinated a box-in maneuver on the suspect vehicle on Austell Road at Callaway Road. After the box-in was made, both occupants were detained and arrested for the appropriate charges. The ignition on the steering column was popped, and the vehicle was confirmed stolen out of Dekalb County. The vehicle was a “KIA,” and the occupants were possibly part of the “KIA BOYS” theft crew around metro Atlanta. One was an Adult, the other a Juvenile.
Beginning in December of 2022, a crime group targeted retailers with fraudulent returns of Apple products, including Apple watches and Apple Air Pods. More than 15 counties in Georgia and eight different states were affected by this crime group. The total loss to the retailers is more than $185,000. Detectives from Precinct Two worked with the retailers and other investigators from outside agencies to coordinate identifying the suspects and collecting surveillance video. After months of investigation, detectives were able to take Racketeering charges against five suspects involved in the scheme. The suspects have been taken into custody and await trial.
Cobb County Camera Registry
The Cobb County Police Camera Registration program is a police/community video partnership that operates on a voluntary basis with homeowners, neighborhoods and business owners who own private video surveillance systems. We encourage both businesses and residents to register their cameras online by completing the form below.
This program is intended to let our officers know where cameras are active in the county in case a crime occurs. It is not intended for active surveillance, and officers will not have direct access to homeowners' cameras. Those who register a camera will be contacted if a crime occurs in the vicinity of that camera. Information provided by residents and businesses will be maintained in a secure database.
Cobb PAL focuses on juvenile crime prevention through athletic and recreational activities for Cobb County’s high-risk neighborhoods, primarily in South Cobb. There are many ways that you can help, whether it be spreading the word, getting your children involved, volunteering your time and resources or donating money. If you wish to assist this worthwhile program and make a donation, visit Ways to Help.
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If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact us at Precinct2Pens@cobbcounty.org
Detective Lieutenant N. McCreary
Det. Sergeant M. Nerbonne
Detective Sergeant R. Hyatt
Cobb County Police Department
4700 Austell Rd
Austell, GA 30106