Car theft crisis at Atlanta airport, more off-duty officers to be hired, Aungelique Proctor, March 28, 2024

ATLANTA - An alarming number of car thefts have been happening at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It is an embarrassing crime FOX 5 has been reporting on for about a month.

Atlanta police confirm we are already at 95 for the year.

Travelers flying in and out of the Atlanta airport expect to find their cars in the same parking lot where they left them, but that has not been the case for so many.

"It would never cross my mind that it could happen. Of course, doing this," traveler Ben Williams said, pausing to click his car key fob. "Trying to hear my alarm, but it wasn't there."

Why are there so many car thefts at Atlanta's airport?

On Thursday, Atlanta police officials discussed the problem at the Airport Atrium Vendor Task Force meeting.

"With the auto theft issues that we are having at the airport, it is due to criminals being able to create keys easily, programming keys easily. Extremely easily within 5 minutes," said Atlanta Police Major Kelley Collier.

Crooks can program new keys in just 5 minutes.

Atlanta City Council members want to see more officers, more cameras, and a stop to this crime.

"They are tailgating...they are tailgating each other and that's how they are getting out," the major explained.

How APD is stopping car thefts at Atlanta's airport

APD has an immediate strategy to combat these thefts.

"We are gonna put an officer actually there at the entrance of every parking deck, and we have eight of them," the major pledged.

The heavy lift is to hire off-duty officers airport-wide to help with parking lot security, the unhoused, and fake rideshare drivers.

The major believes they will be about to budget for 30 officers.

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond says it is his hope that the new officers will be in place by the end of the summer.

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