In response to a seemingly unending series of well-organised break-ins that have plagued Atlanta since the summer, rental companies and production companies in the Atlanta area took action that is now starting to pay off. In late October, Evan McIntosh of Shudder Studios spearheaded an effort to gather up data about all the break-ins to date, mapping out for law enforcement the locations, dates, company contacts, and replacement costs of twenty-five theft incidents involving seventeen rental and production companies, all taking place in the past three months—over $3 million in estimated losses.
Scott Taylor (Taylor & Taylor Associates, and member of the PERG Council), using the information gathered by Evan approached the Atlanta Police Foundation to request their assistance and involvement. The hope was the Atlanta Police Foundation would use their contacts within government to get the attention of law enforcement and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Taylor reports “I was told what data to collect by a retired detective who knows the inner working of police departments. This same individual shared with me that getting the police to pay attention to property crimes is a process. We first needed to show that these are not random one-off burglary crimes. We needed to show a pattern of thefts targeted against motion picture camera equipment rental companies. Next, we needed to raise the level of attention to these thefts by showing that someone is eventually going to get hurt because of these crimes. The fact that at least three companies hired their own security and that the burglars crashed into a police cruiser during a chase disabling the police car, heightens the level of concern for public safety.”
The companies shared security footage in a central cloud storage location. Sharing this information with all the law enforcement jurisdictions enabled the police to start properly appreciating the scale of the problem and see that their job was helped by the community of companies working together.
Crime Stoppers is a program that enables disbursement of reward money to individuals who provide information leading to the arrest of perpetrators. Working with Dave Wilkinson of the Atlanta Police Foundation, a $25,000 reward commitment was determined to be the dollar amount that would likely lead to informants providing the information needed to catch and prosecute the perpetrators. The goal of the reward is to disseminate pictures of the burglars committing the crimes and to ask the public for their help. To this end, FOX 5 Atlanta and CBS 46 each aired multiple segments on this story in the local Atlanta area. The local rental companies raised the reward money, and contributions from insurance underwriters helped them meet their $25,000 goal. The Crime Stoppers tips line is 404-577-TIPS.
Taylor expressed his gratitude to all who participated in the news segment, shared their camera footage of the burglaries, and gathered and complied the lists and dollar values of the stolen gear. Almost all the rental companies involved are PERG/ESTA members.
The fallout from these events has affected many aspects of business in Atlanta. Rental companies have spent tens of thousands of dollars in added security precautions, including additional security cameras, improved doors, unbreakable windows, and hiring overnight security personnel.
But, working together, the rental/production community hopes to soon turn the tide on this aggravating crime spree.
PSA Reminder, RENTAL GUARD is the central international depository for theft information, search, report, watch list, Question Customer Alerts, New Customer Inquiry.