by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:
ATLANTA - People living in a southwest Atlanta senior housing complex plagued by car break-ins are worried about their safety.
"I think they're targeting us, because we're seniors," said Joseph Arnold.
Arnold told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri his car has been broken into seven times in the four years he's lived at the Atrium at Collegetown complex on Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard.
He said thieves have broken in three times in the last two months. In the most recent incident, he showed Viteri the damage where the window was missing and the ignition damaged.
He said thieves tried to drive it out of the gate, which had been left open, but he installed an anti-theft measure called a kill switch, which prevented the engine from starting.
"If I didn't have the kill switch, it would have been gone," Arnold said. "We're so fearful sometimes of coming out and getting in our cars and things, because we don't know if they're going to be out there."
Avivah Moreland El said she was so worried after someone broke into her car late last year that she bought a gun.
"I just kept thinking it was going to happen again," she said.
She told Viteri she would sit with the gun in her car all night to keep it safe.
"It was just a little pistol that I would bring down, and I thought, ‘I have really gone too far with fear,’" Moreland El said.
When the gate is working properly, a remote is needed to exit. But in the most recent car theft, a police report shows the suspect got the security guard to open the gate for him by claiming he was taking a van to get a tire fixed for the complex owner.
Residents said they noticed Atlanta police have increased their presence in the neighborhood recently and are hoping police will also add bike patrols.