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Atlanta shoplifters setting fires to Target and Walmart stores to steal


Authorities said thieves are using ever more brazen and mind boggling methods to steal merchandise from retail stores following recent incidents in Metro Atlanta. 

Fires at two local Walmarts in December and a Target on Monday are being investigated as arson. Police believe the blazes were set to create a diversion for shoplifting and are looking for two men from surveillance footage. Similar incidents have occurred around the US, including a Home Depot fire that was detected from space.

Officials in Atlanta confirmed that a fire at a Target on Monday was being investigated as arson, along with a pair of similar incidents at local Walmarts in December. 

In a news release The Atlanta Fire Department said, “Investigators believe the suspects intentionally set the fires to create a distraction, allowing the offenders to shoplift items and escape as patrons rushed to exit the burning stores.” 

Three blazes appear to have been set by shoplifters in order to distract attention from their heists.  Similar theft-related fires have broken out in cities and towns across the US targeting mostly big-box stores including Walmart, Target, and Home Depot.

“Arson is an extremely violent crime that not only destroys property but also places firefighters, first responders and the general public at great risk,” Henry Countryman, an arson supervisor with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, said in a statement.

The Georgia Arson Control is offering a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those wanted. You are urged to call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-282-5804.

The National Retail Federation says that retail theft is a significant portion of a nearly $95 billion inventory shrinkage problem each year — and that’s before property damage and other costs are factored in.

In California, a man was charged in 2022 with setting a Home Depot on fire while stealing thousands of dollars worth of power tools. The resulting blaze reportedly required 100 first responders, destroyed $17 million in inventory, and was detected by a satellite orbiting the earth.


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