Gone are the days of cat burglars and sneak-thieves. Instead, Atlanta police are confronting a wave of in-your-face, organized and potentially dangerous smash-and-grab heists, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The propensity is there for violence,” said Atlanta police Maj. Chris Leighty. “That's the kind of thing we're trying to deter.” The closest call to date came early one morning in July, when a crew of men rushed the door of a diner, intent on grabbing the downtown Atlanta eatery's ATM.
They shook the money machine from its foundation and, despite employees' attempts to lock down the place, pushed a waitress to the ground and escaped with their prize. Atlanta police have recovered 10 ATMs this year and made more than a dozen arrests in recent smash-and-grab heists. The run of ATM take-aways, or attempted take-aways, extends back to late 2009. “They hit the Grand Poobah on that first one, and that was the one that started the rash,” Leighty said, referring to a 2009 theft in Atlanta’s West End shopping district. ATMs weren’t the criminals’ first target. Before that, the item du jour was the flat-screen TV, as police found themselves responding to calls from restaurants and bars, reporting their windows smashed in and the huge monitors wrested from wall mountings. Before that, thieves were bursting through the windows of clothing boutiques to snatch high-priced jeans.