Property crimes are the most common types of offenses in Georgia and elsewhere. These types of offenses do not always make news headlines unless police report a spike in offenses such as a recent car break-in epidemic reported in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on safety concerns expressed by workers at the Mall at Stonecrest following a rash of car break-ins in October.

A nail technician at a beauty salon in the mall in DeKalb County mall felt intimidated. Thieves smashed the window of her car along with 15 others. The stole belongings during the break-in epidemic. Media reports stated thieves targeted almost 100 cars over the course of one night in October.

DeKalb police increased their patrols of the mall but said no video camera surveillance footage was available of the thefts.

The thieves targeted mall employees and customers. Police officers chased three people into a wooded area, the media reported. They escaped.

More Break-ins Occur at One Atlanta Mall

As more stores close in malls, criminals have moved, according to crime analysts. In 2016, the AJC noted how 12 months’ worth of police data found car break-ins are much more common at one specific metro Atlanta mall than in other large shopping complexes in the area.

The Mall of Georgia is the largest mall in the state. However, it did not have the highest number of break-ins. Gwinnett police responded to 50 car break-ins at the Mall of Georgia in 2015.

However, the Metro Atlanta mall with the most car break-ins was in Cobb County.

The statistics found shoppers were three times more likely to be a victim of a car break-in at Cumberland Mall than at the Mall of Georgia.

Police said it only takes about 30 seconds for a crook to break into a vehicle and to steal whatever is inside.

Although breaking and entering a vehicle is a fairly common offense, it is taken very seriously in Georgia and is charged as a felony. Georgia defines entering an automobile or another motor vehicle with intent to commit theft or felony as an offense that can attract a jail term of up to five years.

Entering an automobile is a similar offense to burglary, which is breaking and entering into a dwelling or structure with the intent to commit a felony.

Breaking into a car attracts a sentence of no less than one year and no more than five years. Although prosecutors charge breaking and entering as a felony, the judge can reduce the crime to a misdemeanor.

If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor instead of a felony, you may end up paying a fine. However, conviction of the felony can result in prison time as well as a fine.

Courts often order offenders to pay restitution to compensate the victim for his or her loss.

If you have been charged with entering a vehicle, it’s important to hire a Newnan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Please call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.