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Winter: Prime Time For Auto Crime


Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the state will provide nearly $4 million in grant funding to 29 police departments, district attorneys’ offices and other agencies to combat motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud in New York State.  The Albany Police Department, Albany County and Westchester County district attorney's offices are getting just over $400,000 combined.

Mike Green heads the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.  "The Governor is committed to doing everything we can as a state to support local law enforcement. Motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud are two significant issues that affect the state and ultimately affect New York taxpayers, because with insurance fraud we all end up paying the difference in one way or another."

Law enforcement agencies submitted plans in advance of being granted funding to enforce those plans. Aside from carjacking and staged accidents, there's a myriad of lesser "auto crimes" motorists face. Captain Curtis Cox with the suburban Guilderland P.D. says the first step in complying with local law is making sure your vehicle is up to snuff.    " That they have the appropriate anti-freeze and that they have good windshield wipers...that they have good snow tires or tires that are acceptable for winter time driving..."

Cox says in the winter people have a tendency to want to warm up their cars before heading out. "There is a state law that says that you cannot leave a car running with the keys in the ignition and the motor running, because then that vehicle becomes a potential stolen car. The vehicle needs to be secured, often times if it's done with a remote starter, then there are precautions built into the starting system so that it does not allow it to be moved when there's no keys with the vehicle."

Police advise paying attention to signage and staying informed during and after snowfalls to avoid getting towed during a snow emergency. Cox warns of the dangers of being victimized by "smash and grab" criminals who break into cars parked in malls because holiday purchases are left in plain view.   "Make sure that your packages are secured out of sight, either in the trunk or the cargo area, and if it's visible from outside you should have blankets or something you can put over the top of the packages."

The following 29 agencies will receive grants and use them in a variety of ways to combat fraud, including: funding either all or a portion of the salaries of assistant district attorneys and investigators specifically assigned to handle motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud cases; funding enhanced enforcement and sting operations; and offering specialized training for prosecutors, police officers and investigators.

Statewide Training Grants

• New York Anti-Car Theft and Fraud Association (NYACT): $57,000

• The New York State Prosecutor’s Training Institute (NYPTI): $31,900

New York City

• New York City Police Department: a total of $289,700 to two specialized units, the Auto Crime Division and Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad

• Fire Department of New York: $104,900

• Bronx County District Attorney’s Office: $302,500

• Kings County District Attorney’s Office: $227,200

• New York County District Attorney’s Office: $275,000

• Queens County District Attorney’s Office: $568,200

• Richmond County District Attorney’s Office: $77,100

Long Island

• Nassau County District Attorney’s Office: $169,100

• Nassau County Police Department: $130,000

• Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office: $315,100

• Suffolk County Police Department: $143,200

Hudson Valley

• Westchester County District Attorney’s Office: $300,900

• Yonkers Police Department: $139,400

Capital Region

• Albany Police Department: $36,500

• Albany County District Attorney’s Office: $68,100

Central New York

• Syracuse Police Department: $26,000

Western New York

• Erie County District Attorney’s Office: $120,700

• Monroe County District Attorney’s Office: $125,000

• Niagara County District Attorney’s Office: $152,100

• Buffalo Police Department: $121,000

• Cheektowaga Police Department: $48,000

• Niagara Falls Police Department: $36,500

• Rochester Police Department: $42,200

• Monroe County Sheriff’s Office: $31,200

• Niagara County Sheriff’s Office: $21,500

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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