Burglars target affluent areas of Marietta and Cobb
by Noreen Cochran
February 21, 2013 12:43 AM | 12024 views | 15 15 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Empty households are catnip for burglars, and some thieves are more successful than others at eluding capture.

That’s a lesson many Marietta, Smyrna and east Cobb neighborhoods are learning the hard way following a string of burglaries that started several weeks ago. Police are working with residents to get a handle on the crimes, many of which are happening in affluent neighborhoods.

“It seems the suspects think all the people are well off,” said City Councilman Grif Chalfant, whose west Marietta ward had a break-in Feb. 13 in the Hickory Hills subdivision.

Glenn Luckett of the Hickory Hills Homeowners Association said his 700-plus household subdivision has had a break-in every other month.

“It feels like a lot, but on the other hand, I’m not sure how you can be exempt from crime,” he said.

The most recent burglary on Feb. 13 caused the homeowner to be “devastated,” Luckett said, at the loss of a treasured heirloom ring after a back door was pried open.

Police respond

“The important part was, in the earlier break-ins, they caught four people. The one previous to that, they caught one person. I’d say they have a 75 to 80 percent rate of catching the burglars,” Luckett said about the Marietta Police Department.

The Feb. 13 burglar is still at large, he said.break-ins, they caught four people. The one previous to that, they caught one person. I’d say they have a 75 to 80 percent rate of catching the burglars,” Luckett said about the Marietta Police Department.

“I am not aware of any leads. One person was picked up and questioned that appeared to be casing several houses on the street, but they don’t have any proof that he was involved,” Luckett said. “One of the kids knew who he was. He was a dropout from Marietta High School.”

He said the suspect pool contains equal amounts of dropouts or truants and experienced professionals.

“The last one was a kid. The others that were caught had records of doing this and were older,” Luckett said.

Police presence has been increased.

“They’re driving around between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. with spotlights going down the drive looking for someone at night,” Luckett said. “I’ve seen more patrol cars and unmarked vehicles during the day.”

Councilman concerned

Chalfant said his ward seems to have “mini-crime waves” of break-ins.

“We get short bursts of these things. I guess you’d call them a mini-crime wave because they’ll break into three or four houses till we get on them,” he said. “Usually we do catch up with the people.”

Chalfant said the thefts are the work of inexperienced youths.

“They’re young kids. They’re not professionals. Everyone we’ve come across so far have been teenagers or in their low 20s,” he said. “They’re either not out of school or just out of school or quit school.”

The last suspects caught actually live in the ward, Chalfant said, attended Marietta middle and high school and did not drive.

“They’re pretty much on foot. That’s what we’re struggling with,” he said about the burglars’ modus operandi.

What passes for an ordinary walk home may be a crime in progress, Chalfant said.

“Look for a group of three or four youngsters milling about, casing the places and paying a lot of attention to what’s going on in the houses as they walk by,” he said.

Once those clues are spotted, neighbors should take action, Chalfant said, quoting advice from a town hall meeting last month between police and homeowners.

“We’ve explained to people if you see a suspicious person, don’t hesitate to call 911. If you just think something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t,” he said.


Another threat to homeowners lies not at their doors but in their driveways or on the street.

“A lot of them are called car door flippers,” Chalfant said about the perpetrators. “If you happen to leave your car door unlocked, they’re going to find it.”

Clues to their presence are easily discovered, he said, speaking from personal experience.

“I came out once and my doors were open. When they’re done, they don’t shut the doors because it makes noise,” he said. “Luckily I didn’t have anything in my car.”

No arrests have been made in 15 to 20 incidents over the last six weeks, Luckett said, but a pattern seems to be emerging that might help identify suspects.

“Most of the (house) break-ins are during the day. The car door flippers happen at night,” he said. “They haven’t broken windows. They’re not breaking in. They’re just opening the (car) doors.”

Luckett said the crime is preventable.

“I’m certainly concerned about the car door flippers, but I’m pretty sure I know how to stop that,” he said. “They’ve got to lock their cars.”

Chalfant said he is trying that advice.

“If it’s hard for them to get into, they’ll go somewhere else,” he said.

Luckett said that was the point.

“We make it inconvenient, and they go elsewhere,” he said.

East Cobb and Smyrna hit

East Cobb had its own crime wave cut short when a four-person burglary ring was caught in early February after 17 break-ins.

Jontavius Dearra Clark, 26, of Austell, Jaquori Harris, 20, of College Park and 48-year-old Malloy Bernard Brooks of Atlanta were arrested Feb. 4.

And 64-year-old Richard Lee Burgess of Atlanta was arrested Feb. 6.

They have been charged in connection with a string of home and car burglaries in neighborhoods off Lower Roswell Road east of Johnson Ferry Road between Jan. 17 and Jan. 26.

Stolen items recovered included a $35,000 Gucci crocodile purse. Cobb County police said the burglaries were crimes of opportunity.

Burglars get inside in a multitude of ways,” said Officer Mike Bowman. “They’ll break the front door or back door or find an open door. In those, they got in through open garage doors.”

Cobb police also responded to a burglary call in the Park Walk subdivision of Smyrna last month.

Robin Jackson said thieves used a concrete slab to gain access to her house, but she scared them off.

“This is the second burglary this week,” she said Feb. 1. “Crime has increased.”

Her advice is the same as that given by Marietta and Cobb police departments.

“People need to be aware,” she said. “Call 911 if you see something, especially teens doing something suspicious.”


Comments-icon Post a Comment
Davis Mac
March 01, 2013
$35,000 purse..? It deserves to be stolen and shared.
Pam J
February 24, 2013
Of course the thieves are going to break into the nicer homes. Better stuff, or so they think. And I guess a $35,000 Gucci bag proves it. I'm just surprised that these people don't have security systems. A loud alarm will scare a lot of people off. And I think it's safer to take everything out of your car and just leave it unlocked. Why risk getting the windows broken. I
Brad Stevens
February 21, 2013
....or, you could move to New Hampshire. Crime there is ridiculously low compared to GA. No income or sales taxes in NH either.
Lena s
February 21, 2013
I live in East Cobb, pay high tax's and HOA fees, so I can be safe...if you even try and break in my car or my home, I have a gun and I am not afraid to use it. I will protect what is mine, I worked for it all these years, You worthless bums that feel the need to steal from other people, get a job!
Pat H
February 21, 2013
We once owned a rental home in a very nice East Cobb neighborhood, with 2 baths, 3 beds, dining room, 2 1/2 car garage, nice private backyard, deck. Not 4 or 5 hundred thousand, but good solid upper middle class area. We were deluged with calls from Section 8 people, who we refused.

If you need government help to pay your rent, the options should only be an apartment, 1 bath, no garage. A private home in a nice neighborhood should require delayed gratification, savings, no children until you can afford them. Growing up, we had 4 children and one bath, no dining room, no garage, and my parents never had one whit of government help.

Where do these people think the money from the "government" comes from? From those of us who worked since high school, put ourselves through college without Pell grants, paying our own way, saved money for our housing down payments, waited to have children until we could pay all their expenses - healthcare, lunches, college, everything. I have worked nights, weekends, holidays, gone to work sick, tired and stressed. Taxes are from the money I worked so hard for while Section 8 people lay around in their beds having children I have to support.

It doesn't come from the government - it comes from me and other citizens who work hard and pay taxes. Section 8 got out of control under Clinton and now these people feel entitled to live in neighborhoods they can't afford to buy into. They also feel entitled to steal more than our government tax money - they feel entitled to break into our homes and steal our furnishings, jewelry and other possessions.
Just Wait
February 21, 2013
How dare these thugs target our wealthy citizens! Why break into homes that have the stuff they really want when they could be breaking into other thugs homes. The wealthy should be above all this!
February 21, 2013
Federal policies that contribute to this problem is the shifting of Section 8 housing from the inner cities to the suburbs. The culture of "I deserve it because I'm here" has arrived.

We live in a $4-500,000 neighborhood in west Cobb. We worked thirty years to finally arrive in our dream home. We have a Section 8 rental home just down the street with multiple young men between the ages of 19 and 24, no visible "adults" and problems like drug deals, paint on the home, malingering in our common areas. There is nothing our HOA can do, they say.

Thanks Obama. It used to be if you worked hard you could get a job and live a productive life.

I wonder if we didn't have so many illegal aliens if my neighbor kids could get jobs and not be hanging around doing nothing but trouble.
February 21, 2013
Oh for God's sake, Obama had nothing to do with it. Would you people stop using EVERY opportunity for this type of stuff?

The reason we have so many Section 8 people causing problems in the suburbs is because of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. When the City was awarded the Olympics, they quickly decided to dismantle and disperse all of the housing projects in the City because they did not want the media to see it. They enlisted staff to help these residents get Section 8, so they could then move out of the City into any number of suburban areas in rentals. Blame Atlanta leaders at that time for it - as it was their "out of site, out of mind" mentality that started this - not Obama (and for the record, I didn't even vote for him, I'm just tired of the every-opportunity bashing stuff).

Oh, and Section 8 cannot just take over your home. Blame your neighbors for it, too. It's up to a home's owner to decide if they wish to put their home into the program or not. They move, and they think it's an easy check for them each month, not considering what they're doing to their old neighborhood by putting their home(s) into that pool.
Butler Stevens
February 21, 2013
Section 8 does cause an increase in crime in the neighborhoods that are infested, that's true. You can't blame Obama alone. GW Bush pushed housing like crazy too.

Keep in mind also that with ever increasing minimum wages, increased regulation, and the added expense of programs like Obamacare, low skilled jobs are not plentiful since it is too expensive to hire.

Burglary is much more profitable for these losers. Don't blame the immigrants. They actually do honest work.
February 21, 2013
Call Cobb County Police Prct 1, and ask for Officer Fowler. He can help you with the Section 8 rental issue.
February 21, 2013
Right, it's Obama's fault you paid half a million bucks for a house near a bad neighborhood. I'm sure he's responsible for the traffic and the awful weather we've been having too.
February 23, 2013
Why don't you blame your neighbor for renting the house to a Section 8? Its not like he or she didn't have a choice! Blaming Obama is ridiculous.
February 25, 2013
Cobb's best days are behind it....
February 21, 2013
Let's all remember, guns don't kill people, so when you ain't at home, your guns just get burgled too unless you keep them locked inside a legitimate safe which can't just be carried off and cracked open elsewhere.

If you want to keep your property and self safe, try good locks, security cameras and/or dogs. They say "keep out." Guns say "You are already broke in, now maybe I can shoot you if I happen to be home."
February 22, 2013
Clean the junk out of your garage so you can actually park your cars inside at night. All of the break ins in my neighborhood are cars parked in the driveways over night.
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