Grand Theft Auto: Decatur

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 5, 2013

The crap has officially hit the fan in the city of Decatur.

Earlier today someone forwarded me a statement from the city concerning a recent series of crimes in our area.

There was a pretty harrowing car jacking (although, I’m not sure a car jacking can be calm and orderly) on Sycamore Drive close to the intersection of Grove Street. It sounds like something out of the “Grand Theft Auto” video game.

From the report:“The victim, a 24 year old male stated he had been followed from near the Toco Hills shopping center in DeKalb County by a blue Ford Taurus sedan.  He stated the vehicle’s horn began blowing while traveling southbound on Sycamore Drive.  He stated the vehicle pulled alongside him while he was stopped at the intersection of Sycamore Drive and Grove St.  He stated the front seat passenger of the Taurus rolled her window down and asked for directions.  While the victim was giving directions, he noticed (a male) standing beside his vehicle, holding what appeared to be a shotgun.”

The report notes that the dude wielding the shotgun covers his face with a blue bandanna, but I’m fairly sure he only wears it in a car jacking context or he would’ve been easier to catch.

The statement, which I’ve reprinted here, goes on to say that the city is definitely, definitely on top of this and that you should not be freaking out.

Since I’ve lived in Decatur I indulged my delusions that we are a cocoon of safety in an otherwise sketchy metro area.

I used to jog well into the evening hours. Since these reports began surfacing, I’ve become more wary of doing something like this because it feels like I’m gambling. That’s sad. But I’m confident the police are pretty fired up about catching whoever is responsible for these incidents.

I’m going to stick to my standard routine of working out close to home when it’s dark outside and staying indoors after midnight. Also, I call the police whenever something doesn’t look quite right. Another piece of advice: be wary of solicitors. I usually just don’t answer the door for them. On the rare occasions when I have, the solicitors didn’t have any identification proving they were who they said they were.

I wonder if it’s time to discuss installing public safety cameras in strategic locations around town.

Stay safe.

Ongoing Police Investigation 

We sent out a news release on Wednesday, July 3 around 6 p.m. updating the media on the ongoing police investigation of the recent burglaries and robberies.  I am sending the same release to all of our e-news lists to keep you updated as well.

In addition to the release we sent Wednesday, we had a report of an armed robbery on Sycamore Drive near Grove Street at 3:30 a.m. July 5.  The Community Alert is posted on the website with the details.  Based on a number of key differences, the police believe that this incident is not related to the other incidents that occurred earlier this week.

Please know that the police are working diligently to resolve these incidents and please keep your eyes and ears open if you see any suspicious activity.  In addition, Police Chief Mike Booker and his staff are available if you would like for them to come talk to your neighborhood association or community group.  Call 404-373-6551 to report suspicious activity or to schedule a meeting with your group.

Ongoing Police Investigation

The City of Decatur Police Department is in the process of investigating a series of 13 day time burglaries that occurred from May 30 – June 26 that appear to be related. The majority of the burglaries occurred in and around S. Candler Street including parts of the Oakhurst and Winnona Park neighborhoods. The burglaries seem to be related to a significantly higher number of similar incidents in DeKalb County and the City of Atlanta. All three jurisdictions are working on a coordinated approach and together have made one arrest, detained five juvenile perpetrators, recovered a stolen vehicle, and recovered stolen property.

The Decatur Police Department is also in the process of investigating an attempted robbery and two robberies that occurred in Oakhurst on July 1 & 2 and a car theft that occurred on Swanton Way in downtown Decatur on July 3 that resulted in the vehicle crashing at Kirk Rd. and South Candler Street. A 15-year-old suspect is currently in custody.

According to information obtained from the witnesses and the victims, both the burglaries and the robberies are being committed by juveniles. Decatur Police Chief Mike Booker said that there is no indication that the juveniles are Decatur residents. He added that these appear to be crimes of opportunity with no regular pattern but that they do share common characteristics in terms of items stolen and the number and age of the suspects involved.

Chief Booker stated that “We are meeting and comparing information on a daily basis with both DeKalb County and City of Atlanta officers working the cases.” He added “that in addition to the regular patrol shifts of five officers, the City has called in additional off-duty police officers and re-directed the four special unit officers to assignments related to addressing the current situation.” Officers are using marked and unmarked cars and implementing periodic roadblocks throughout the city. Additional uniformed city staff, including firefighters, are assisting in the patrol of city parks, neighborhoods, and the business districts. In addition to responding to all burglaries and processing all latent prints, the police are using the GBI sketch artist and anticipate the release of at least one sketch very soon.

Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett said, “We want to assure the community that resolving these incidents are a top priority for the City Commission, the Police Department and all City staff. We are confident that they are utilizing every available resource to catch the perpetrators.”

Mayor Baskett continued, “The police regularly issue community advisories and update them as more information is available for release. We encourage the community to read those advisories and follow the suggested safety precautions.” Advisories are also posted on the City of Decatur website at

Chief Booker and other police staff members will attend the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association Meeting on Monday, July 8 at 7 p.m. at The Solarium, 321W. Hill Street and the Winnona Park Neighbors Meeting on Tuesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore Street. They are also available to attend other neighborhood association meetings. Call 404-373-6551 if you would like to request they attend your meeting.

The Decatur Police encourage the community to call if they see any suspicious activity. The non-emergency number is 404-373-6551. If you believe you are witnessing a crime, or have an emergency, dial 911.

Linda Harris

Chief, Civic Engagement, Education & Communication


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