Atlanta police chief seeks help from motorists, merchants to combat car crimes

Get ready for the busiest shopping season of the year. That message is from Atlanta police commanders who warn parking lot prowlers inevitably will increase their activity. 

"I know it feels like everyone is getting their cars broken into," said Chief Erika Shields, "but property crime is actually down." 

But she knows crunch time is just days away as citizens prepare to get started on their holiday shopping.

"It's astounding what people leave in their cars," Shields said during a recent city hall briefing. 

The chief also pointed out some of the places that keep her officers the busiest, including the Howell Mill shopping district where Walmart is an anchor store. 

Another trouble spot in the Ponce De Leon corridor. It has the popular Ponce City Market as well as other stores. 

Atlanta commanders ask motorists not to leave their belongings visible. 

Midtown resident Wanda Truesdale, who visited shops along Ponce on Monday said, "I always keep my car clean. I put my stuff in my trunk before I park." 

Police brass will meet with merchants soon to request they do more to protect their lots. Officers monitor the lots, often with undercover details, but they cannot just sit police in one area all day long. 

Chief Shields said some merchants do a better job than others when it comes to their own security. She pointed out Home Depot and Target.