Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta police caution citizens as car thefts increase

Atlanta has seen a significant increase in auto thefts over the last month, and police say inattentive drivers should be blamed to some extent.

In a 28-day period ending November 14, about 337 cars were stolen in the city. That is an increase of 83 percent from the same period last year, according to stats provided by the Atlanta Police Department.

The biggest boosts are in more affluent parts of town, together with the Peachtree corridor from Buckhead to downtown, said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor.

Since Sunday night, eight vehicles have been stolen in Zone 2, which includes Buckhead.

“All of those cars were taken either running or with keys inside of them,” said O’Connor.

Since then, five cars have been appropriated from Midtown. Four were virtually gift-wrapped, with key fobs left inside the car, he said.

“We’re seeing this pattern over and over,” O’Connor said. “I believe approximately 70 percent of vehicles stolen this year have been stolen with the key fob inside.”

That negligence is not lost on the perpetrators, who are now laying their hands on expensive cars. Among the vehicles stolen in the last week: a Range Rover and a Porsche Panamera, O’Connor said.

Driveways and gas stations are generally the setting for such thefts, he said.

“You make it so simple for a car to be stolen,” the deputy chief said. “Anybody can just lift the door handle, push the start button, and drive off.”

O’Connor said investigators have “a number of suspects” who wanted in multiple cases of car theft.

Despite the latest increase, auto thefts have increased 1 percent for the year.

Overall, crime in Atlanta has dropped 17 percent in 2020. But violent crime continues to increase.

The city saw it’s 130th murder on Tuesday. This has been the highest total since 2003 when there were 148 killings, and a 42 percent rise from this time in 2019.

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