Newton County

Police say teen boy dressed as woman stealing from gyms across metro Atlanta

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — Police say a teenage boy dressed as a woman and wearing a wig is targeting local gyms and robbing people.

Police say gyms are especially good targets for thieves as people try to fulfill New Year's resolutions.

Channel 2′s Sophia Choi was in Newton County, one of several metro areas police say Tarquinnious Mack has hit since November 2019.

Covington police capt. Ken Malcolm told Choi police know the 17-year-old lives in Atlanta, but so far, they haven't been able to track him down.

"He's been very active the last few weeks," Malcolm said.

Police say Mack works with a group that has also targeted gyms in Holly Springs and Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, and Cherokee counties.

Police say most recently, he hit a Planet Fitness in Covington, then walked right next door to Kroger, where he used a stolen credit card before taking off in a stolen truck.

Malcolm showed Choi the surveillance video of the person they say stole from the Planet Fitness on Highway 278 on Monday.

Malcolm said the thief gets in by lying to employees and saying that he lost his membership card.

"He's now approaching the clerk here," Malcolm said, pointing to the video. "He's negotiating, trying to get into the facility. And he's able to get in."

The surveillance video then shows Mack leaving the locker area, where police believe he stole credit cards and keys. More surveillance video at Kroger shows him buying gift cards with stolen credit cards and leaving in a stolen brown F-150 that belonged to a gym member.

"He's looking for crimes of opportunity," Malcolm said. "And so far, he's been successful now in five different areas."

Choi talked to Jazzmon Sanders, who just joined Planet Fitness this week. She says she keeps her things close by and makes sure to take the proper precautions.

"We live in a world where crazy stuff happens. So when you're in a situation like that, you just have to take precautions," Sanders said. "I just keep everything on me. If you can't have it on you, then you probably shouldn't bring it in."

Police hope the public can help them find Mack. In the meantime, they have advice for gyms to cut down on thefts, which tend to spike after the first of the year.

"The gymnasiums have to be vigilant in making sure that any individual that comes in is an actual member," Malcolm said.

Police also recommend bringing your own lock if you use a locker.