ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Atlanta Police are searching for fast-moving car thieves after three cars were reported stolen Wednesday night from a popular restaurant on Pharr Road in Buckhead. According to Sgt. John Chafee, it's part of a disturbing trend investigators have noticed in Buckhead and Midtown just this month.
"We've had six cases city-wide so far this year. The keys were left in the car by the valet and in the case last night on Pharr Road, it appears at least three keys were taken from the key box at the valet," Chafee told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.
Stone Mountain resident Keary Barnes spends a lot of time dining in Midtown and Buckhead and uses valet services several times a month. He was surprised to hear so many vehicles were stolen from valet parking services and just the first three weeks of the year.
"You would think that the keys were locked away somewhere and inaccessible. Now I'm definitely going to ask ballets a few questions before I just released my car to them," said Barnes.
Thursday, an Atlanta Police Commander from Zone 2 met with met with managers of more than 40 hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers to address valet car thefts and offer some tips for theft prevention. Chaffee said consumers who patronize valets should take preventive steps as well.
According to police, in several cases, the key was left in the car or the key was left unsecured by the valet.
"We need those valet drivers to take greater steps to make sure the keys aren't accessible, but drivers should also ask if valets lock the keys and how they secure the vehicles to make sure that no one other than the valet drivers can get a hold of them. We're going to do our part to step up patrols in the popular target areas, especially as we get closer to the Super Bowl, but we need everyone to do their part," said Chafee.