ATLANTA — His boss says a young Atlanta police officer has become a one-man wrecking crew against car thieves.
So far, Officer Terry Holmer has recovered dozens of stolen cars worth about $1.7 million since the start of April.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne learned the officer is in a high-tech battle with sophisticated theft rings.
“Officer Holmer has recovered 37 vehicles since the beginning of April. The estimated value of those vehicles is $ 1.7 million,” Atlanta police Lt. J.T. Childers said.
Holmer finds many stolen vehicles, especially high-end cars, trucks or SUVs.
“You get a charge out of finding a stolen car?” Winne asked Holmer.
“Yeah, I get the excited feeling of finding the car, then being able to help someone recover their vehicle they might have lost. Some people get very personal with their vehicle,” Holmer said.
Holmer leads the Atlanta police Zone 5 tactical traffic unit.
“He’s developed a knack after we sent him to some training,” Childers said. “Officer Holmer has really taken to it like a duck to water. He puts in a lot of time on and off the clock.
“Most of the times there are red flags I’m looking for. I’m looking for certain things and when I notice certain things, your ‘spidey senses’ go off,” Holmer said.
He told Winne that many of the cars he has found were stolen in other cities, some right here in Atlanta.
“Two of them have been stolen from car jackings, armed car jackings,” Holmer said.
“Through technology, the criminals have developed ways to start cars without fobs and keys other than just sticking a screwdriver in the ignition,” Childers said.
The lieutenant said high-tech car theft rings are a national problem but Holmer uses high-tech tools, too.
He cannot talk about them publicly, but he is especially skilled at finding cars where the vehicle identification numbers have been altered to avoid detection.
Childers suggests Holmer also is driven by his sense of competition with Officer Ricardo Jones in the same unit. Jones has had remarkable success finding drugs and guns.
“This is one officer in one zone in one city and this officer singularly has recovered $1.7 million, so clearly there’s a much larger problem and need for additional training for officers for them to be able to recover these vehicles as well,” Childers said.
He added that there are easy things drivers can do to reduce the risk of victimization: don’t leave your keys or fobs in the car; don’t leave your car running—especially important as we get into colder weather; and don’t leave valuables in the car.
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