by: Carl Willis Updated:
ATLANTA - As the city of Atlanta began to thaw out from Tuesday's ice storm, 34-year-old Louis Mitchell set out to victimize those who had to abandon their cars on the highway.
"Couldn't ask for a worse time to try to prey on people," said Sgt. Greg Lyon.
According to police, Mitchell stole a tow truck from Loganville, then used it to steal at least five cars that were still on the road Thursday.
"He was taking vehicles off the highway and bringing them to another house around the corner," said Lyon.
Police said they found four stolen vehicles there and said Mitchell paid residents to help store the cars in the backyard.
Channel 2's Carl Willis visited the house on Washington Street in Southeast Atlanta.
"I didn't know he was stealing them," one resident told Willis.
No one in the home was charged in the case as of Friday night.
Police said Officer Jamael Logan became suspicious when he spotted Mitchell in an unmarked tow truck with temporary tags.
He was towing a 1996 Toyota Camry that had been abandoned since Tuesday on I-85 near I-285 in DeKalb County.
Logan tried to make a traffic stop but police said Mitchell and a passenger jumped out of the truck, while it was still in gear, and crashed it into a barrier wall.
A K-9 unit and footprints left in the snow led police to a home on Crew Street.
Neighbor Rudena Dillard said she was concerned because the suspect could have come to her doorstep.
Police said Mitchell ditched his shirt in the bushes and got into a home where he tried to blend in by sitting on the residents' couch.
"He basically knocked on the door came inside of the house and said 'Hey, let me in, let me sit down and if anyone comes in tell them you know me,'" said Lyon. "Of course immediately they said 'We don't know this guy,' and that turned out to be the driver of the vehicle."
Police said Mitchell's boots were still soaking wet from running in the snow.
He was arrested, but police are still searching for the other man who was riding with him.
Investigators later discovered several fake documents from the State of New York Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in the tow truck.
The documents listed vin numbers belonging to other vehicles that were reported stolen on Jan. 30 out of City of Atlanta and DeKalb County.
Police also said they found several documents indicating the cars may have been stolen for sale at a scrap yard.