ATLANTA — A year’s worth of police data shows that car break-ins are much more common at one specific metro Atlanta mall than other large malls in the area.Channel 2 Action News obtained car break-in data for 2015 for more than a dozen of the largest malls in metro Atlanta.
The largest mall in the state is the Mall of Georgia, but it wasn’t even close to having the largest number of break-ins. Gwinnett police responded to only 50 car break-ins there last year.
Conner Bennett parked his truck at the Mall of Georgia last December while he and his girlfriend, Breanna Turner, had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.
Bennett’s windows are tinted and Turner left her purse partially tucked under the passenger seat on the floor of the truck.
When they went back to the truck, they saw that his passenger window was no longer there. Neither was Turner’s purse.
“I was completely shocked, because you just don’t expect that to happen,” Bennett said.
“There’s a girl who works at the mall who actually told my mom there had been a few break-ins and the girl she worked with had her car broken into,” Turner said.
The odds of being a victim of a car break-in were nearly three times higher at Cumberland Mall last year. Cumberland Mall was at the top of the list of break-ins, with 140 reported last year.
"It’s a big problem," Cobb County Police Officer Alicia Chilton said. "I did work that area, so I'm familiar with how often it happens."
Chilton said it takes about 30 seconds for a crook to break into a vehicle and take whatever is inside.
"Maybe a gym bag with your clothes in it, you know, that's not super important to most people. But to a bad guy, that may be a crime of opportunity,” Chilton said.
Officers say those bad guys are using small pieces of a spark plug to smash car windows. They also use screwdrivers to pop door locks.
Atlanta Police (?) Public Information Officer Kim Jones has sound advice to lower your chances of having someone break into your car.
"Leave your car the way it was when you purchased it. There was nothing in it," Jones said.
She said most people don’t do that.
Channel 2 photographer Justin Crate spent 20 minutes at Cumberland Mall, where most break-ins were reported last year, and found purses, shopping bags, backpacks and even electronics out in the open.
Cumberland Mall management didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.
Here is a complete list of malls that we checked and the number of break-ins reported to police in 2015:
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