(SAVANNAH) There is a crime that’s draining law enforcement resources in the Hostess City and it leads investigators to dead ends. But those cases are still leading to charges and arrests. The instances of people filing false reports has led to scores of arrests in the hostess city and police continue to crack down on those who lie to them during investigations. The commander of the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department’s Patrol Division says his officers are forced to file false report charges every week of the year. ” It is a problem. It is a problem because people, I think, become frightened, they become confused, or they’re trying to get one over on someone.” said Major Larry Branson.
The problem of bogus crime reports adds to an already heavy caseload for Savannah’s finest. Branson says in 2014, officers made 85 arrests for false crime reports. In 2015, 74 people have been charged with that crime. Branson says the motive isn’t always criminal, but the act of lying to an officer looking for the truth is a crime. ” I don’t know that it’s ever intentionally against the police or against the public, but they are trying to get something for nothing for themselves and it’s not gonna work. We will aggressively, assertively, pursue any false reports.” Branson said.
One of the latest cases unfolded here at the Walmart on Montgomery Crossroad in early October. 15 year old Jakeen Harris forgot his wallet full of birthday money at the self-checkout counter. His parents, Chris Harris and Janeen Newton say minutes later, when he returned to retrieve it, he was told a clerk did find it, but the wallet was no longer in their possession. ” His wallet got stolen out of Walmart.” said Chris Harris. ” I think it’s kind of devastating from that first report. It was stating the wallet got snatched by some guy that was in the store and then the evidence revealing otherwise.” said Newton. The true story was revealed in the stores security video, which shows the teens wallet being willingly handed over to another person who claimed it was his. Police not only arrested the person who received the wallet, but the store employee who claimed the billfold was stolen out of his hands was also arrested in late November. “False report of a crime is a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced by the judge up to a year in prison, up to $1,000 dollars fine or both. When someone calls to make a false report, that takes the officer off of the street, those are citizens whose property is not being protected and it’s a waste of everyone’s time. ” said Branson.
Major Branson stresses police in Savannah will pursue charges in every case of false reporting they encounter, adding the penalties and fines are much stiffer when that false report involves the theft of an automobile. Those fines can top out at $5,000 dollars with up to a year in jail.