Clayton County

Numbers show car thefts, break-ins on the rise at Atlanta airport

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A South Carolina man says he parked his pickup truck at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport earlier this month only to return to the parking lot to find his truck stolen.

The man said he was parked on the front row right across from the terminal and he doesn’t understand how someone was able to not only break into his pickup truck but also to drive off with it from this lot.

“You would think of where I parked that someone had a lot of nerve to be able to steal it from that spot,” Justin Williamson told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln.

However, Williamson says that is exactly what someone did.

“I guess your vehicle can be stolen from the airport,” Williamson said.

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He said he was returning from a business trip on July 10 at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and when he got to the north economy lot, he said his flatbed Ford F-250 pickup truck was nowhere in sight.

“I came back to the spot where I thought I parked and there was a different truck sitting there,” he said.

Airport security said their system showed his car hadn’t left the parking lot.

“It left a bad taste in my mouth,” Williamson said.

After a search, he said neither he, nor airport security could find his truck, leaving him to file a police report and figuring out how to get home.

“I had a $105 Uber ride to Braselton, Georgia, two hours away to Starr, South Carolina,” Williamson said. “I stayed at a Holiday Inn and my wife and kids came and picked me up.”


Channel 2 Action News reached out to Atlanta police who confirm they are investigating Williamson’s case, but car thefts from the airport’s economy parking lot isn’t something new.

Last year, Atlanta police were called to investigate after NFL player Janoris Jenkins’ Rolls Royce was stolen from the south economy lot.

We went through the numbers from the Atlanta Police Department which show that this type of theft is on the rise.

In 2019, at least 10 vehicle thefts were reported. By 2020, that number had jumped to 45 and in 2021, 73 vehicle thefts occurred.

This year, 58 vehicles have been stolen. That’s already more than half of the total number of vehicle thefts reported in 2021.

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This year, several other airports across the nation have reported car theft upticks. Williamson says police told him about thefts from Toronto’s airport.

“They were calling Atlanta to see if they were having any problems with F 250′s or 350′s being stolen because they were having about 5 a day stolen up there,” he said.

Williamson says he realizes he’ll probably won’t see his truck again.

“It just makes you more aware of potential risk that you have of theft,” Williamson said.