Armed thefts stacking up in Cobb County
by Rachel Gray
March 02, 2014 04:00 AM | 6183 views | 5 5 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Armed robberies in Cobb
Armed robberies in Cobb
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MARIETTA — Last year’s increase in the number of armed thefts in Cobb is spilling over into the first two months of this year, with 15 commercial robberies already on the books for the Cobb Police Department.

In 2013, there were 86 commercial robberies in unincorporated Cobb, the highest rate for the past three years, according to Lt. J. D. Ferrell of the Cobb Police Robbery/High Tech Crimes unit. This was an average of more than seven incidents a month.

In 2011, there were 77 cases of commercial robberies and in 2012 there was a slight dip to 69.

“The robbery crimes will trend up and down,” Cobb Chief of Police John Houser said. “The factors are hard to pin down, but the economy can certainly play a role.”

Just this week, there were four commercial robberies spanning from the Cumberland area to both west and south Cobb. The four robberies, two occurring in one night and two others Tuesday morning and evening, have yet to be solved.

Officer Mike Bowman with Cobb Police said detectives cannot speculate if any of the crimes are related, and evidence sent to the crime lab can “take a long time” to be processed.

Houser said Cobb Police has one unit specifically focused on street crime, with enforcement by officers in both marked and unmarked cars.

“But it is a tough crime to solve,” Houser said.

Armed theft at a quiet shopping center

One armed robbery that surprised many residents happened Tuesday at about 10:30 a.m. at The Avenue West Cobb, a popular outdoor shopping mall off Dallas Highway known for its upscale shops in a suburban setting.

Two men and a woman walked into the Kay Jewelers and robbed two employees at gunpoint. The suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, jewelry and personal items, police said. No injuries were reported.

All three suspects fled on foot. Police searched around the area of the mall, and employees of the shopping complex said the manhunt involved helicopters.

The suspects were described by Cobb Police as two black men and one black woman, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years old.

On Thursday afternoon, police released security camera footage from the Kay Jewelers store, which shows the suspects looking at items in the display cases.

“Within moments of doing so, the two men drew handguns and began tying up the two female employees,” Pierce said.

The video footage has been posted on the Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta website, under unsolved crimes.

Robbery shocks west Cobb neighbors

The Kay Jewelers store sits in a prominent position in the center of the complex, near the entrance with signage visible to the highway.

Many shoppers and employees speculated Thursday afternoon that Kay Jewelers was targeted, like many other fine jewelry stores throughout the metro Atlanta area in the last six months.

Employees of Brighton Collectibles, which carries designer purses and accessories just a few shops down from Kay Jewelers, said since moving in to the complex three years ago, this is the first time there has been a robbery.

John Thatch has lived in Cobb for more than 45 years and recently retired from a career in sales at a tire wholesale retail business in Atlanta.

Thatch, who lives off Hurt Road near Austell Road, said his family often shops at The Avenue, including the Kay Jeweler store.

“That is such a great neighborhood for people to live in and their children to grow up in,” Thatch said.

Thatch said the rise in commercial robberies could be linked to an influx of people moving into Cobb from Atlanta and other counties.

“We don’t like crime in Cobb County,” Thatch said.

But, Thatch said the recent crime outbreak will not force him to move away from Cobb. Instead, he will pay attention to the crime report details to help local law enforcement apprehend the suspects.

“You want to always know what goes around your area, to keep alert about it,” Thatch said.

Second robbery the same day

Hours later at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, another west Cobb commercial business was targeted on the outskirts of Marietta.

According to Cobb Police, three men entered the La Tiendita, a neighborhood grocery store that offers Latino-style goods, off Powder Springs Road.

One suspect approached an employee at the register, as the other two positioned themselves inside the store, Cobb Police said.

The suspected robber at the register pulled out a hand gun and demanded cash from the drawer. Then all three suspects fled the business on foot in an unknown direction, according to Cobb Police.

The suspects were described by Cobb Police as black men between 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, in their late teens to early 20s.

According to Ferrell’s report, this was only the second commercial robbery this year in Zone 5, which expands south from Stilesboro Road to Powder Springs Road.

Unlike the Kay Jewelers case, the Cobb Police report about this armed robbery did not include images or video surveillance footage.

Armed robberies frequent near Cumberland

Two commercial armed robbery cases occurred a week ago on Feb. 23, just outside the Atlanta perimeter.

Both robberies were committed in precinct Zone 3, which is near the Cumberland area where Interstates 75 and 285 intersect.

According to Ferrell’s report, Zone 3 has been victimized by seven armed robberies in the last two months. That is nearly double the four so far this year in Zone 2, which covers southwest Cobb in the Austell and Powder Springs areas.

Houser said the recent rash of armed commercial robberies are not likely to be committed to people living in Cobb.

“You do see a number of crimes where individuals from outside of Cobb target Cobb County businesses and residents,” Houser said.

These crimes tend to follow the areas along interstates, “to use the avenues as a place of escape out to other jurisdictions,” Houser said.

At 4:12 a.m. Feb. 23, a black man entered the Texaco gas station, off Powers Ferry Road, according Bowman.

Bowman said the man pulled a handgun and demanded an employee open the register, then he took an undisclosed amount of cash.

As the suspect fled, he fired one round into the ceiling of the gas station, Bowman said. No injuries were reported.

Half an hour after the Texaco incident, another gas station was robbed off Windy Hill Road, about a mile north of the future Atlanta Braves stadium site.

At 4:45 a.m., a black man is suspected of entering the Sams Mart of a Shell gas station, pulling a handgun and demanding cash from the register.

Bowman said the man took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled on foot.

The two robberies are unrelated, according to Pierce.

In both cases, the suspects were listed by Cobb Police as black men, with no age, body type or clothing descriptions.

Armed thefts in Cobb

In the past two months, there have been 15 commercial robberies in unincorporated Cobb.

Precinct One — 0

Northwest Cobb — includes the Town Center Mall, Kennesaw, and Acworth areas

Precinct Two — 4

Southwest Cobb — includes the Austell and Powder Springs areas

Precinct Three — 7

Southeast Cobb — includes the Cumberland/Galleria, Vinings and Smyrna areas

Precinct Four — 2

Northeast Cobb — Includes the Sandy Plains and Johnson Ferry areas

Precinct Five — 2

West Cobb — includes Dallas Hwy and Macland Road areas

West Cobb - includes Dallas Hwy and Macland Rd areas

Cases of commercial robberies in the past three years:

2011 – 77

(an average of 6.4 a month)

2012 – 69

(an average of 5.75 a month)

2013 – 86

(an average of 7.2 a month)

Comments
(5)
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WritingontheWall
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March 04, 2014
It is only going to get worse. At one time Cobb Sheriff and PD were some of the highest paying departments around Atlanta. Now other departments are paying as much, if not more and offer other programs such as take home cars or even a housing allowance if you live where you work!
Cobber43
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March 02, 2014
For years Cobb robberies went down. The specialty unit that works on them now is less than 1/3 of its original size because manpower is so short. I'd count on robberies to rise.
Joseph Pond
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March 02, 2014
Commissioner Birrell told us at the GOP breakfast that there are no problems with the police force; we are all safe.

At the end of the BOC Meeting,Chairman Lee mocked the 110 public safety officers who spoke about the real issues in the police department when he asked the new public safety director, should I listen to you or should I listen to them?

If the public safety department were in top form, these crimes would not be happening.
notsurprised2014
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March 05, 2014
Lee has his own agenda for him and his buddies. It does not include what is best for the citizens. You mean to tell me you can put the Braves deal together overnite but can't sort out the issues the cops are facing? He just doesn't want to no matter what the citizens say.
Just Wait
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March 02, 2014
You cannot prevent armed robberies. You can only increase the number of marked police cars in the area. That is something Cobb PD cannot do because they do not have enough police officers. The ones on the road are too busy answering calls for service and don't have time to do real patrols. Where was Hankerson when all our officers started leaving for better pay and benefits at other departments?
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