BRASELTON, Ga. - Investigators are trying to break a multi-county pawn shop smash and grab operation. Pawn shop break-ins have been reported in Jackson, Walton, and Newton counties.
Police said the crooks used a large rock to break the front door window and get into the Pawn and Antiques in Braselton.
Investigators told FOX 5 News, the common denominator in a series of pawn shop break-ins is weapons.
"They threw this rock right here, through the window. All of them ran in," said Detective Zack Tiller, Braselton Police Department.
He said the masked intruders showed a practiced efficiency of breaking into pawn shops, grabbing weapons, jewelry, and other valuables, then getting out quickly.
"They were in and out within about a minute,” said Tiller. “Instead of sitting around trying to grab more and more, they're getting what they can throwing it in trash cans then they are out the door."
Tiller said the five men got away with five weapons at Braselton's Pawn and Antiques early last Monday morning because the others guns were under lock and key.
Detective Tiller said similar pawn shop break-ins, targeting smaller independently owned stores for weapons, also occurred in Oxford in Newton County and Walnut Grove in Walton County within a day or two. But he suspects it's a larger operation than the three locations.
"I would say multiple counties. They're hitting areas near the interstate, they can hit quickly, and come back towards Atlanta," said Detective Tiller.
Two getaway vehicles, a Chevy van and Crown Victoria, were recorded on surveillance behind the neighboring Cork and Keg liquor store, leaving before Braselton Police arrived.
"If we had an extra minute and a half our Braselton Police would have definitely caught them. It's a real fast crash and grab as quickly as possible," said Tom Kitchin, owner of the Cork and Keg Liquor Store.
Police released pictures of two men which were snapped at a nearby gas station.
They're believed to be connected to the multiple pawn shops break ins which now has the ATF involved in an effort to stop the growing smash and grabs.
"An owner or police are gonna run up on them, eventually they're gonna get caught. Time's running out, you'll catch them sooner or later," said Kitchin.
Braselton Police said they're expecting surveillance video of other pawn shop break-ins with the same MO will confirm the same crew is involved.
It's unclear how they are picking pawn shop locations but Detective Tiller said it could be as simple as the crooks googling pawn shops in small towns in Georgia.