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Five officers of the Savannah–Chatham Metropolitan Police Canine Unit have been recognized for the best performance of the second quarter of 2012 in the nation.

The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) cited the Savannah–Chatham unit for the best performance nationally for its action in securing both suspects in a kidnapping scheme that locked down Downtown Savannah and a west Savannah neighborhood on May 17.

USPCA already had cited the unit with the District 2 award for securing one suspect who had hidden in the Old Pink House Restaurant and then running down a second who had been holding a 12–year–old boy hostage a house on Milton Street.

The national award qualifies the K–9 officers for the best canine patrol case nationally for the year. The team was recognized for its performance in the many difficult situations it faced that day, the manner in which each member supplemented and complimented co–workers and the endurance that led them to continue until both suspects were arrested.

“These awards are a testament to the intensive training and outstanding performance of our K9 Unit,” said SCMPD Chief Willie Lovett. “These officers and their canine partners are called upon daily to help perform searches and keep our citizens and our officers safe. I am thrilled that they have received this recognition.”

• The driver of a pickup truck that crashed while speeding from a crime scene with a dying accomplice in it Sept. 27 has been charged with felony murder.

Detectives served Anthony Threatt Robinson, 38, with the warrant for his part in the incident in the Chatham County Detention Center where he was being held on other charges.

He had been taken into custody after a brief foot chase by pursuing Central and  Southside Patrol officers near East 46th and Harmon streets after the truck crashed into a house minutes after a shooting at the Coastal Gold Exchange in the 200 block of Eisenhower Drive. He was charged at the time with driving without a permit, fleeing to elude, failure to maintain lane, driving too fast for conditions, reckless driving, failure to notify after striking an object, failure to yield and obstruction

Benjamin Lamar Carter, 35, was found in the pickup dead with a gunshot wound. He had been shot in a confrontation with an employee of the business.

• Police are warning drivers not to warm up their automobiles unattended before leaving their residences on chilly mornings. Traditional increases in auto thefts are being reported and many of them involve vehicles left running by owners to warm up or as a convenience while they run what was supposed to be a quick errand. More thefts are expected as winter temperatures continue.

Of 21 vehicles reported stolen last week in the Savannah–Chatham Metropolitan Police Department jurisdiction, six were left with keys in them – usually in the ignition. In one case they were left on the floor and another in the trunk lock. Four were left running with no one around.

While auto thefts are running 11 percent behind the number reported year to date in 2011, police say they’re “confounded”  that more than a third have been left with keys available and many of them have been left running.