A break-in was reported at Joinus Cleaners in the Berkeley Heights Shopping Center at 1700 Northside Dr. on Wed., Feb. 17, 2016. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Cops: Smash-and-grab burglars hit 8 NW Atlanta businesses in one night

In one night, smash-and-grab burglars hit eight northwest Atlanta businesses, leaving behind broken glass doors and other property damage, police said Wednesday.

“[In] most of the businesses, either there was nothing taken or just small-valued items were taken,” Atlanta police Capt. Celeste Murphy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as she stood outside Joinus Cleaners, one of the affected businesses.

In addition to Joinus, burglars hit Atlanta Sport and Spine, Solor Dimensions Tanning, Great Clips, Nail Fashion, Cleaners and Azio Pizza, Officer Donald Hannah said. The stores are part of shopping centers on Howell Mill Road, Northside Drive or Collier Road, he said.

Katherine Bayless, the owner of another affected business at 1402 N. Highland Ave., told police suspects entered Pure Barre and removed workout clothing valued at about $5,000. Pure Barre is a women’s fitness clothing store, according to its Facebook account.

During a news conference, Atlanta police Maj. Van Hobbs said the department’s gang unit was investigating the robberies. Police have not ruled out the possibility that the incidents were part of a gang initiation or related to similar robberies earlier this year.

The frustrating part, Hobbs said, was how quickly the burglars got in and out of stores.

“By the time we get there — and our response times are less than a minute — they’ve already been gone,” he said.

Part of that is because police experienced a delay between the time alarm companies were notified of the break-ins and the time police were notified, Hobbs said. Officers have asked companies to contact police immediately when they find out about intruders, he said.

Police will patrol the targeted areas more frequently, Hobbs said.

Damage was still being assessed at many of the stores Wednesday.

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