ATLANTA — Car thieves are thriving in parts of Atlanta by taking advantage of more people leaving their cars to pick up food and supplies.
Channel 2’s Matt Johnson learned that citywide, car thefts are up over the past month or so but in Buckhead’s Zone 2, they’re up a staggering 95%.
One of the latest victims says thieves are taking advantage of a people with their guard down and police less willing to arrest nonviolent suspects.
“This is what we're dealing with now,” the man said, asking not to be identified.
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He told Johnson that he left his Range Rover outside of a Buckhead Waffle House as he picked up an order. That’s when he said a burgundy Challenger pulled up next to it so a thief could hop in and drive off onto Roswell Road.
“It just happens really quick. I just think now more than ever you got to be really cautious,” the victim said.
Johnson dug into the latest crime stats from Atlanta police, and he found last year thieves stole 21 cars in March from Zone 2.
Last month, thieves nearly doubled that with 41 cars stolen as the coronavirus outbreak forced restaurants to open for take-out only.
“I think criminals now are kind of up to speed,” the victim said. “People are running in places quickly, grabbing food, things like that.”
The Atlanta Police Department is protecting the health of officers by encouraging them to avoid the physical arrest of most nonviolent criminals.
Officers are to write a copy of charges with some discretion.
The victim told Johnson that he fears thieves are taking advantage of that policy shift.
“They also know that the city is kind of lightened up on crimes unless they’re violent crime, and they can literally get away with it,” the victim said.
Atlanta police found the stolen Range Rover and then found several stolen purses with it from other unsuspecting victims.
In this case the victim thought he had locked his car, but he didn’t. Police say the overwhelming majority of car thefts are happening because of unlocked cars.