Area Authorities Searching for Theft Suspect
Wallets have been snatched from businesses in Athens-Clarke, Barrow and Oconee counties.
Between March 15 and 19 five incidents of theft in Athens-Clarke County were reported involving a middle-aged black man. Investigators believe the suspect is the same in all cases. Anyone with information on these cases is asked to contact Detective Lou Pasqualetti at 706-353-4218 X139. If you wish to remain anonymous, you may call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 706-613-3342.
Here are the incidents:
• In the 3000 block of the Atlanta Hwy – On March 15th at 2:15pm, a black man, 5'11” to 6'01”, mid 40's, close cropped hair, and no facial hair, wandered in the business for unknown reasons. When challenged, he stated he was there to prepare to clean the carpet. Employees confirmed he was not a carpet cleaner. When he left, an employee found her wallet was missing.
• A veterinary clinic in the 800 block of Hawthorne Avenue – On March 16th at 9am a black man, in his mid-30's, bald, 200 lbs. ,wandered in the business for unknown reasons. He was not challenged as employees were busy. He left in an older model tan 4-door vehicle. An employee's wallet was taken.
• 2400 block West Broad Street. - On March 16 at 5pm, a black man with short black hair, 300 pounds, clean shaven, wandered in the business for unknown reasons. When challenged, he represented himself as a pest control worker. He left in an older model 4-door sedan, golden/brown in color. Nothing was noted as missing. Employees confirmed he was not a pest control worker.
• 3500 block Atlanta Highway – March 16th at 8pm - a heavy set black man wandered in the business for unknown reasons. When challenged he stated he was there to check the kegs. He was allowed free access. When he left, an employee found her wallet was missing.
• Timothy Road Elementary School, 1900 block Timothy Road – March 19 at noon – a black man, 5'09, middle age, bald, heavy set, entered the employees area took an employee’s wallet. He left in a gold Buick 4-door vehicle.
A man fitting the same description was also caught on video images from similar incidents that took place this past weekend in Barrow County.
In Barrow, the victims were targeted between noon and 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, and each of the witnesses gave similar descriptions of a man who entered the businesses claiming to be someone sent by the building owner to perform services such as carpet cleaning and pest control. Winder police say the man was given access to office areas after telling employees he needed to inspect the area for the work he was going to perform. Employees, who were out of their offices, discovered their wallets missing from purses and desks shortly after the man left the buildings.
Athens-Clarke Police told the Athens Banner-Herald that the Oconee County Sheriff's Office is also investigating similar crimes.
On March 16, the manager of Barberitos on Epps Bridge Parkway in Oconee County told deputies there was video footage of a man entering the restaurant's office and taking two employees' wallets, but a detailed description of a suspect wasn't in the incident report.
Business owners and employees are encouraged to be vigilant of who enter non-public areas of their work place. Question why they are there. If they say they are there to perform work, verify that and ask for identification. Workers should keep personal property (i.e. purses, wallets, cell phones) in a secure, out of sight location. If you see suspicious persons or vehicle, call 911.