ATLANTA - A big, bold reminder could soon make its way to a gas station near you.
The Atlanta Police Department just started parking a mobile, electronic billboard at stations in the metro area. The sign cycles through multiple messages including "Stop Auto Thefts. Secure your vehicle when pumping gas."
The efforts stems from what APD calls an "uptick" in thefts at gas stations.
"Literally if you leave your vehicle, in 30 seconds or less your vehicle can be gone," explained Sgt. Warren Pickard.
The mobile unit was parked Wednesday morning at the Shell station located at the corner of West Paces Ferry and Northside Drive--the scene of one of the most recent thefts.
Surveillance video from the station shows a woman pull up and begin to pump gas. Seconds later, a sedan stops next to her car and a man jumps into the woman's SUV while her daughter was still in the back seat. The woman and her daughter ran away from the car and the thief took off with the mother's purse.
"No child or family should ever have to go through this and be affected by this," said Janette Luffred, who knows the family that was targeted. "You really have to watch where you park and how you, you know, leave your purse--always just bring your purse with you. You always have to have your keys with you."
Luffred and others have expressed frustration that the gas station has not hired security to patrol their property. The station's manager said that is not feasible, but that they too are fed up with the crime. He believes the suspects who got away with the woman's purse were the same ones who tried to break into the station owner's car earlier that afternoon.
Police said the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a target for crime is to lock your car doors, remove any valuables from sight and make sure your car is off if you have a push button start feature.
APD plans to park the mobile billboard at locations around the city through the end of the year.
The victim of the carjacking, Tish McDonald, spoke with FOX 5's Nathalie Fultz: