Thieves have stolen millions in equipment from Georgia film sets in the last year, filmmakers say

ATLANTA — Thieves targeting metro Atlanta’s booming film and production industry have stolen millions of dollars in equipment over the last year. Now business owners are teaming up with the City of Atlanta and police to create a task force to stop them.

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The thefts total more than 40 since the start of 2021, and some places have been hit multiple times.

Lance Holland, the owner of Encyloomedia in Candler Park, said they’ve hit his business more than one -- and fast.

“They’ve been in and out of here in four minutes each time,” Holland said.

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A group of four men in one car can been seen breaking into the business last fall and again in January.

All are usually armed with crow bars, but one has been seen with a gun. They go after high-priced cameras, lenses and other equipment.

“These guys are either getting information, or been part of a production in all these different places. It’s clear they know where the goods are,” Holland said.

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It’s not just large production houses, but also small businesses.

Karlief Legend and his wife own The Plug ATL in Chamblee. Police believe the same group of thieves broke in to their digital and content creation studio just before Christmas, taking around $100,000 in equipment that they’ve yet to replace.

“The pit of my stomach was just in knots,” Legend said. “(To see) video surveillance and looking at people running through this building and just grabbing stuff.”

The General Manager of PC&E, a large production house and rental company, says they’ve also been hit twice.

Mark Wofford helped compile a full list of the thefts across four metro counties and multiple jurisdictions for police.

“It’s happening all over, so I think the response needs to be coordinated,” he said.

A group of the owners estimate the losses are huge.

“They could be three to four million, and that’s just ones that we know about,” Wofford said.

Wofford and other filmmakers have been working with Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond who introduced a resolution to create a metro-wide task for to combat the crimes.

Bond said Thursday that the measure got full support from the public safety committee and will go to a full vote at Monday night’s council meeting.