ATLANTA - An Atlanta City Council Member is the latest victim of a crime. She was getting ready to pump gas in her car when a thief opened her door, snatched her purse and phone before taking off.
Crime turned from a bureaucratic discussion to the real-life experience for Atlanta Council Member Keisha Lance Bottoms and police have a name for it. They call it surfing.
Has it gotten to the point that you need to be armed at the pump during the three minutes that it takes to buy gas?
“Which is a huge problem I know in my area, and I’m pretty sure across the city. In fact, they got me at a gas station,” said Bottoms. “And I know better.”
“Sorry about that,” Atlanta City Police Chief George Turner told Bottoms during a city council meeting.
They, a thief, got a city council member, with the same type of crime that’s affecting so across the metro area.
“And I was so focused on trying to see if I could get gas at this pump and there was nobody around, so I didn’t turn around and lock my door and probably in less than two minutes they had my phone and purse and I never saw it. I only knew it when I drove off,” said Bottoms.
The sneaky theft happened at a Citgo on Campbellton Road right outside the city limits in Fulton County. Fortunately the council woman didn’t have a face-to-face encounter, but all over town there are plenty of time when a motorist has had a brush with danger, sometimes the act is caught on video.
It’s happening all over Atlanta and police have a term for it.
“They are really surfing the other side of the vehicle, stealing from inside of the vehicles,” said Chief Turner.
Bottoms asked the questions likely on many people’s minds: What can be done to curb the crime?
“We’ve utilized a lot of overtime in some of the places where we’ve seen the hotspots. Some of the private businesses have hired off-duty,” said Turner.
The Atlanta Police Department is also trying a rolling billboard, a message sign, for motorists to pay attention. But perhaps the biggest gap in deterrents is what chief turner spelled out to the council lady.
“If we had caught the young person that stole your purse, if it was a young person, there was no way that juvenile court would have taken that person. We would have had to release that person on recognizance to a parent,” Turner told Bottoms.
Bottoms said Wednesday afternoon that she attended a community meeting the previous night and heard from police that they think that they know who is responsible for getting into her car. In this case, they believe that they have now been taken off of the street, arrested for more serious crimes. Perhaps they’ll stay behind bars this time.