By John w. Goodwin jr.
Officers said the man did not supply enough information to complete the report.
YOUNGS-TOWN — A western Pennsylvania businessman is upset that an employee drove off in his truck in Youngstown, but his biggest complaint is with the police handling of the investigation.
Anthony McGeachy, 34, of New Castle, Pa., owns and operates Fabulous Finishes Building Maintenance. He said the company was contracted for work on floors at a church on Indianola Avenue in the city earlier this week, but one of his employees drove off in a 1995 Ford van belonging to the company and did not return.
McGeachy filed an unauthorized- use report with the Youngstown Police Department on Wednesday, and learned at that time that his employee filed a false Social Security number with the company.
McGeachy set out on a quest to find the missing van, locating a girlfriend of the employee and continuing his search.
Ultimately, McGeachy said he did find the employee, a man who had been at the company since October, on the South Side of the city still driving the van. He followed the man and called police, but said the department refused to send an officer.
“The exact words were that they would not send a car because me, the owner, knew who took the car and it was an unauthorized use,” he said. “I had the potential chance of recovering my vehicle. I had the potential chance of saving myself a loss, but they didn’t help me do anything.”
Detective Sgt. Anthony Longmire said the department, as with every reported case, takes McGeachy’s situation seriously. He said the case involving the company’s missing van involves a newly implemented police department policy and a lack of information on the part of McGeachy.
The department, in a memo dated March 9, implemented a policy that changes how reports of unauthorized use are handled. According to the memo, reports are completed as normal, but not immediately entered into the database as stolen. Those filing reports are told to touch base with the auto theft division, which may wait a period of time before placing the vehicle in the system.
The change in policy deals only with reports of unauthorized use, not stolen vehicles.
Longmire said the policy change was made to avoid a flooding of the law enforcement database with cars that will ultimately be returned, or cases where the person filing the report has no plans on filing actual charges. He said many people were using the unauthorized use system to locate cars borrowed by family members or others and would refuse to follow through with charges once the vehicle was returned.
Under the new policy, reports deemed to be “drug give ups” in which a person gives the car in exchange for drugs, or a business is involved as with McGeachy, the vehicle is entered into the system as stolen immediately.
Longmire said McGeachy’s van was not entered into the system immediately because the person he listed as having the van, according to the Social Security number provided, did not exist. He said officers cannot put a warrant out on someone who does not exist.
Longmire said he cannot say why no officer was sent to the scene when McGeachy claimed to have found the van, but said it may be in part due to the van’s not being entered into the system as stolen.
“I can’t think of any policy where the department will not look into a situation if there is a complaint,” he said. “This is just a unique situation with Mr. McGeachy.”
The van had not been recovered as of late Friday, leaving McGeachy frustrated and complaining about what the situation may do to his insurance.
Longmire, stressing how unique McGeachy’s situation is, said he does not foresee problems with the new policy going forward.
“There will be some inconveniences along the way, but I think the greater good will be served,” he said.