ATLANTA -- Police are on the hunt for vandals they say are targeting first-responders' cars.
In just the past two days, two more local departments have been hit.
Investigators say vandals have been targeting both fire and police stations across the metro area, the latest in East Point. At a fire station in that city, firefighters’ personal cars were broken into. In Atlanta, seven police cars were vandalized downtown, forcing them off the street for repairs and interfering with public safety.
"It's really unacceptable to damage patrol cars, we need our officers out on the streets patrolling," APD officer Stephanie Brown told 11Alive. “This prevents us from having all of our officers on the streets protecting the community."
But this incident is not the first time. It’s just the latest going back a year and a half.
Last month at Fire Station 29 in northeast Atlanta, someone vandalized firefighters' personal cars that were parked in the lot at the station.
In January, vandals and thieves struck six Gwinnett County fire stations while firefighters were away fighting fires. Investigators said the intruders broke into the firefighters' personal vehicles, stealing personal weapons and other valuables.
Thieves struck again in January in Forsyth County, breaking into firefighters' and EMTs' personal vehicles at their stations.
Police and fire departments are reluctant to speak about what they're doing to increase security, not wanting to tip off criminals.
"You realize these guys are here working hard, 24-hours at a time away from their families, serving the public, protecting everyone, including the bad guys that broke into their vehicles,” Forsyth County Fire Department's Division Chief Jason Shivers said. “And then to be a victim of something like this is terribly disheartening."
Atlanta Police arrested a suspect in the police car break-ins, but most of the crimes are unsolved. Investigators are unsure at this time if any of the crimes are connected. They are only sure that anyone can be a victim.
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