Residents say car thefts major issue at new shopping center

Police search for thieves who jumped in, stole car in grocery store parking lot

ATLANTA — Police are searching for a thief who jumped into a couple’s car and stole it in a busy grocery store parking lot.

It happened last Saturday while they were loading groceries in the trunk at the Publix in the Moore Mill shopping center on Marietta Boulevard.

Seth Otey said it only took seconds for the thief to jump in and drive off in his Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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“The car took off in wide-open throttle,” he said. “It all happened in less than a minute.”

Otey said his first thought was to chase the carjacker.

“After a couple of seconds, I realized that wasn’t going to work. I immediately called 911,” he said.

This is just the latest incident at the new Publix shopping center that was a long-awaited addition for residents in northwest Atlanta.

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According to neighbors and police reports, there have been at least five vehicles broken into recently and several others stolen.

“It’s easy to forget that you still have to be aware of your surrounding at all times and take extra precautions,” Otey said.

He said he spoke with a Publix manager about the theft.

“They claim that they have tried to increase the number of cameras and hire security, but so far nothing has been successful,” Otey said.

Channel 2's Carl Willis saw two security guards roaming the lot Friday night.

“I don’t think that’s enough of a deterrent,” Otey said.

He said an off-duty officer could go a long way in making sure the crime slows down.

“Other people have been shot at for their vehicles, so we consider ourselves lucky that we got away safe,” he said.