Welcome to the June edition of THE PENS DISPATCH. This bulletin is brought to you from the Cobb County Police, Precinct 3 Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU3) and is designed to keep you aware of safety alerts and crime trends in your area and measures you can take to keep you and your family safe.
Legal Update: House Bill 673 and the Use of Electronic Devices While Driving
Distracted driving was found to be the leading cause of accidents. Recently House Bill 673 (Hands Free/Distracted Driver Law) was passed and will take effect July 1st to help with this issue.
The new law states that you cannot support any wireless device with any part of your body. This means that you:
- CANNOT hold it in your hand
- CANNOT lay it in your lap
- CANNOT hold it against your ear with your shoulder
Additionally, the law addresses further uses of the phone while driving:
- You CANNOT watch or record a video
- You CANNOT type, send, or read any text based communication
You MAY use your phone if legally parked. This does not include stopped at a light or stop sign, only legally parked in areas such as parking lots or driveways.
You MAY use your phone as GPS but you MUST set it up before you begin driving and are legally parked. If you need to change your route, you must be legally parked.
Important things to remember:
- Citizens may handle an electronic device while driving if they are: Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, delinquent act, or hazardous road condition.
- Law enforcement officers are exempt from the law as long as they are performing their official duties.
Reminder: Legal Parking
The basic parking procedures are found in state law O.C.G.A 40-6-200. This code section states in part that a vehicle parked upon a two-way roadway shall be “parked with the right-hand wheels parked parallel to and within 12 inches of the right-hand curb or as close as practicable to the right edge of the right-hand shoulder.” On a one way roadway, the stopped or parked vehicle must be “parallel to the curb or the edge of the roadway, in the direction of authorized traffic movement.” In other words, facing the direction of travel.
Specific parking prohibitions are under O.C.G.A. 40-6-203. This section states one shall not stop, stand or park a vehicle:
- On a sidewalk
- Within an intersection
- On a crosswalk
- On any railroad tracks
- On any controlled access highways
- On any bridge or other elevated structure upon a highway or within a highway tunnel
Furthermore, unless you are momentarily stopping a vehicle to pick up or drop off a passenger, you cannot stand or park:
- In front of a public or private driveway
- Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
- Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection
- Within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing signal, stop sign, yield sign or traffic-control sign located at the side of a roadway
- Within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station or on the side of a street opposite the entrance to any fire station within 75 feet of such entrance
- Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing
And, of course, you can’t park anywhere official signs prohibit parking!
In addition to our state laws, there are also a few county ordinances pertaining to parking. One such ordinance prohibits folks from parking a vehicle on a roadway for the purpose of washing and/or repairing the vehicle (the latter has an exception for emergency repairs). Another ordinance that many people don’t realize is that you cannot park a vehicle on your lawn; all tires must be on a hardened surface such as a driveway and that hardened surface must be flush to the ground. For a full list of our county ordinances, see library.municode.com
As you may imagine, calls coming into our 911 center are prioritized. For parking complaints, it is best to call the non-emergency number as opposed to dialing 911. The non-emergency number for Cobb Police is (770) 499-3911. The call taker will field your concern as dispatches permit.
Please remember that wherever you park, you must leave one lane clear to allow emergency vehicles to pass; think about how much room a large fire engine might need.
Crime Tips: Entering Auto and Vehicle Theft Prevention
The most current and prevalent crime trend in Precinct 3 for May is a particular type of theft called “sliders.” Criminals target your unlocked vehicles while you are distracted pumping gas at convenience stores. They steal purses, wallets, and keys that are often left on the passenger seat of cars. If bank cards are taken, they are promptly used at stores or online. There are things you can do to help protect yourself from falling victim to these sorts of crimes:
- Stay alert to your surroundings
- These crimes have been primarily committed by teenaged young men operating out of newer model high-end vehicles that are stolen from other incidents.
- Watch for vehicles at gas stations that are neither at a pump nor in a parking space.
- Pay particular attention to a vehicle that stops parallel to yours while you are pumping gas.
- Pay attention to your vehicle instead of watching the gallon and cost gauges increase on the pumps.
- Lock your vehicle while pumping fuel at gas stations.
- Do not leave your wallet, purse, or keys inside your vehicle.
What to do if you find yourself a victim of a “slider,” or witness one of these crimes:
- DO NOT attempt to engage these subjects. While these crimes have not turned violent, the suspects are suspected gang members and are known to carry firearms.
- Try to get a good description of the suspects and vehicle. Tag numbers, damage or stickers on cars, tattoos, scars, hairstyles, and clothing are all helpful in attempting to identify these criminals.
- When they leave the parking lot, note their direction of travel.
- Call the police and report the incident.
- Let the 911 dispatcher know any descriptions you obtained and the direction of travel.
- Cancel your credit cards – While speaking with the companies have them give you your complete card number and pertinent information of any fraudulent charges. Having the date, time, and address of a fraudulent transaction helps investigators tremendously.
Additionally, we have found that the same suspects involved in “sliders” have simultaneously been in neighborhoods looking for open garages and unlocked vehicles. They will steal wallets and purses, but will also steal a vehicle if the keys are in it.
- Keep your garage doors closed while you are not present in the garage, even while inside your home.
- Continue to be alert; it is not uncommon for these suspects to enter your garage while you simply run inside your house to grab a last-minute item.
- Even if your car is in your garage, lock your vehicle’s doors and take the keys inside.
Precinct 3 Criminal Investigation Unit has several detectives dedicated to combating Entering Auto and “slider” crimes. Detectives are working in conjunction with other jurisdictions and sharing information that will lead to successfully prosecuting the individuals involved in these sorts of crimes.
Significant Arrests and Recoveries
Early Sunday morning, April 22, 2018, several calls came into the 911 center from alert citizens who witnessed several suspects breaking into cars in the area of Woodland Brook Circle. Patrol officers responded to the area and located several vehicles that had been entered. Officers ultimately located the suspects and their vehicle. Cobb County Police officers were able to keep the vehicle in sight as it left Cobb County on I285 and got off on Hollowell Parkway. The suspects jumped out of the car and began to run from the officers who had coordinated their approach preventing a vehicle pursuit. The officers were able to take three suspects into custody. Inside the vehicle, officers recovered several stolen items including a stolen handgun. These officers worked as a team to make this arrest. However, none of the arrests could have occurred without our watchful citizens. Detective Barday has followed up with the arrest and added 11 additional entering auto cases.
Detective Laycock made two arrests that totaled 22 felony counts of burglary and financial fraud after an investigation led him to a thief that had been targeting visitors at the OMNI hotel.
Detective Stannard arrested a male that stole $7000.00 worth of iPads from the corporate Comcast building at the Battery. His investigation found the male on surveillance sneaking them out via trash bags while working as a janitor.
Cobb Department of Public Safety (DPS) staff are working to enhance the delivery of near real-time information to residents about incidents that may have significant and/or imminent impacts on their safety or welfare. DPS has implemented the SwiftReach Swift911 notification system to distribute these types of alerts.
SwiftReach is a high-speed emergency notification system that alerts residents to emergency situations including severe weather, missing and endangered persons or significant road closures due to fatality accidents or other unplanned incidents in the local area. The program has the capability of delivering pre-recorded messages to the entire county via telephone, cell phone, email and text messaging. The system uses a publicly-available list of phone numbers that can be removed or updated by both residents and businesses.
There are two simple options to opt-in and provide contact information for this service. A sign up portal is available on the Police, Fire, EMA and Public Safety pages on the Cobb County website. Residents can also get the Swift911 Mobile App by texting the word “Swift911” to “99538.” The response text will be a link for the Swift 911 app in the app store. SwiftReach is another example of using current technology to ensure residents receive vital information from the Department of Public Safety. For more information, visit the Department of Public Safety page at www.cobbcounty.org and click on the SwiftReach icon.
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