Thieves Take Aim at Hikers’ Cars as Chattahoochee River Sees Uptick in Break-Ins

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Modoc Stories/Getty Images)

Those going on hikes at the Chattahoochee River should take extra precautions when storing valuable items in their vehicles. The popular hiking spot in metro Atlanta is seeing an uptick in car break-ins, and while authorities are working to prevent these smash-and-grabs, they’re also urging hikers and residents to be aware of the risks.

According to a report from FOX5 Atlanta, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area has already reported more than double the number of past years, with over 100 break-ins this year.

“It’s important that they kind of protect the outdoors,” resident and hiker Russ Jones told FOX5. “People rely on these areas to get out and stretch their legs and if it’s not safe, people are just going to stay in.”

Park rangers are increasing patrols and installing license plate readers in the parking lot. “When we have a suspected vehicle or a license plate that is suspected of being involved in these types of crime, we can start tracking them on these camera systems and hopefully get ahead of them,” said Jeston Fisher, Chief Ranger of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Since the plate readers were installed, rangers have made four arrests. Additionally, Fisher said that law enforcement has made arrests as well. The overall goal is to stop this kind of activity on park property. Rangers want people to feel safe coming to the area.

“You could be preparing for a jog or looking to go for a hike and be gone for maybe a minute down the trail and your car is already being hit,” said Fisher.

Overall, law enforcement and park rangers recommend taking all your valuables with you and not leaving them in the car. That way, you can avoid becoming a target in the first place.

While People Break Into Cars on Chattahoochee River, Deer Breaks Into Police Chief’s Office in Hinesville, GA

Earlier in the week of Oct. 19, a deer smashed through the window of Hinesville Georgia Police Chief Lloyd Slater’s office. The department was left wondering what to do with the errant animal. The deer was significantly injured in the incident, and wandered around, unstable and confused. Officers eventually cornered it in the conference room, and it, unfortunately, had to be put down.

Chief Slater made a statement later in the day about the wayward deer. He shared how the police department always tries to prepare for everything.

“As long as I’ve been here, we’ve seen a number of things,” he stated. “We try to prepare for every contingency that happens out there. But we certainly didn’t prepare for this.”

Slater continued, “We’re going to have to get some professionals in here to do some professional clean up in here,” referring to the mess left behind by the smashed window. He also lamented the pile of paperwork that apparently comes with a deer crashing through your window. But, Slater noted, it was lucky that no one was injured in the incident.