Crime isn’t just up in Atlanta — here’s what we found in the suburbs

NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — It’s no secret that crime is spiking across the city of Atlanta. We recently reported on a double-digit increase in some types of crimes within the city limits.

But Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik has been digging into the issues that are also developing in Atlanta’s suburbs.

Neighboring cities say they’re seeing the spike in crime too.

From street robberies, to car break-ins, to homicides, as metro Atlanta emerged from the COVID-19 quarantine, police say so too did the criminals.

Petchenik filed open records requests with more than half a dozen metro police departments.

Brookhaven, for example, reports a nearly 30% jump in aggravated assaults from last year to this year. Car thefts are up 11% over 2020.

“The truth is, like everybody else, we’re all scratching our heads to figure out what exactly is driving this rise in violent crime,” said Lt. David Snively with the Brookhaven Police Department.

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Snively said most of the city’s aggravated assault victims knew their attackers, but during one attack over the NBA All-Star weekend, three shooting victims randomly got caught in the crossfire.

“We’re trying to come up with where these crimes are happening and when so we can find patterns and trends to see if we can suppress them,” Snively said.

He told Petchenik that property crimes of opportunity also ticked up as more people left home and got back on the road.

Snively said officers are patrolling hard-hit areas to put a stop to it.

“If we remove the opportunity, remove the incentive, the crimes can’t happen,” Snively said.

Other nearby suburbs are also seeing double-digit increases in certain violent crimes as well.

The city of Dunwoody, for example, reports a 40% jump in robberies this year over all of last year,

and a 60% hike in car break-ins.

But up north in Alpharetta, they report decreases so far this year. Aggravated assaults are down more than 40%, car thefts are down about 23%.

In Sandy Springs, Sgt. Sal Ortega told Petchenik they’re getting hit hard by car break-ins and gun thefts.

“It’s been a weird year,” Ortega said. “We’ve had 42 guns stolen from inside vehicles. And that’s compared to 25 from last year.”

Ortega said he’s concerned about where the guns end up.

“It’s very dangerous once a weapon ends up in the hands of a criminal, because that weapon will be used to further victimize other people and community,” Ortega said.

Janelle Collins lives in the suburbs. She hopes police can get a handle on any crime increases.

“Does it concern you that there is an uptick?” Petchenik asked Collins.

“Yeah,” Collins said. “Just kind of patrolling if there’s suspicious activity or patrolling, especially if there’s areas, patrolling those areas.”

Dominique Downer agrees and she’s taking steps to protect herself when she’s out and about.

“I’m just watching my surroundings to be honest,” Downer said.