EXCLUSIVE: ‘Crawling burglar’ linked to numerous heists in Cobb

Guston's Grille and Tap near Acworth was one of three area businesses targeted by a "crawling burglar" in the same night, according to police. (ALEXIS STEVENS / alexis.stevens@ajc.com)
Guston's Grille and Tap near Acworth was one of three area businesses targeted by a "crawling burglar" in the same night, according to police. (ALEXIS STEVENS / alexis.stevens@ajc.com)

Credit: Alexis Stevens

Credit: Alexis Stevens

He was sneaky. After removing a windowpane or just breaking the window, a suspected serial burglar would then crawl into businesses during the overnight hours, according to various Cobb County police agencies.

And he kept crawling, hoping not to set off any motion detectors until he reached the cash or alcohol, police said. Then, the “crawling burglar” crawled back out, sometimes replaced the window, and was off to the next business.

The monthslong crime spree ended earlier this month with the arrest of Aron Jermaine Major during a traffic stop. Surveillance images of Major’s tag number helped investigators identify him as their suspect. And the go-to outfit seen worn by the burglar in security videos helped link 47-year-old Major to at least a dozen of the crimes, according to police.

That number is expected to climb now that at least 15 metro Atlanta agencies have joined the investigation, said Sgt. Wayne Delk of the Cobb County Police Department.

Major, who lives in Atlanta, is no stranger to police. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, he has served four prison sentences since 1992 for felony convictions in Gwinnett, Fulton and Henry counties. Most recently, he served about two years before being released in April 2018, records show. Major’s rap sheet contains several burglary convictions.

But since September, Major has been in Cobb County, burglarizing various restaurants in the Kennesaw, Marietta and Acworth areas, according to police.

Cobb investigators often check with neighboring agencies when investigating a string of crimes, Delk said. This time, multiple agencies were investigating similar burglaries.

“We’ve been here five years and we’ve never had anything like this,” Robert Taylor, manager of Guston’s Grille and Tap near Acworth, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Investigators believe that during the early morning hours of Feb. 24, Major struck Guston’s and two nearby Cobb Parkway businesses.

At Guston’s, the man seen crawling on the floor in surveillance footage was able to steal a safe. After breaking a window, the suspect put a trash can in front of it to hide the shattered glass, one of Major’s arrest warrants states.

Taylor said Guston’s now has a beefed-up security system, including a safe bolted to concrete, in case the business is targeted again.

Huey Luey's near Acworth was one of three businesses hit in the same night in February by the "crawling burglar," according to police.
Huey Luey's near Acworth was one of three businesses hit in the same night in February by the "crawling burglar," according to police.

Credit: Alexis Stevens

Credit: Alexis Stevens

It was Major’s method for the burglaries, his distinctive clothing, and his tag number that ultimately helped investigators catch him, according to police. The suspect targeted safes and cash, but also took bottles of alcohol, warrants state.

“The burglary is consistent with the MO seen in a much larger string of burglaries within unincorporated Cobb County and surrounding jurisdictions,” an arrest warrant states. “Namely, that said burglaries all displayed such common actions as removal of glass panes, concealment of the point of entry, crawling upon entry into the business, and the targeting of the office safe and its contents.”

Also, Major typically wore the same clothing during his burglaries, police say.

“Said accused was wearing a black jacket with a distinct, gray, angular pattern on both shoulders and sleeves,” a warrant states. “Further, said video depicted said accused also wearing a distinct black backpack with the word ‘HART’ on the back in between two blue patches and two reflective patches and a pair of distinct blue jeans with a pattern on both rear pockets.”

Investigators were able to identify and locate Major through his license plate number. Search warrants were executed at an apartment in Cobb, where evidence was located linking him to crimes, according to police. He was arrested during a June 1 traffic stop after first trying to flee officers, a warrant states.

Major was being held without bond Thursday at the Cobb jail.

‘CRAWLING BURGLAR’ TIED TO VARIOUS CRIMES

A 47-year-old man is accused of burglaries at various businesses in Cobb County including:

Sept. 22, 2020: Wing Café and Tap House on Roswell Road

Feb. 20, 2021: The General Bookstore on Chastain Road

Feb. 21: Jason’s Deli on Barrett Parkway and Chipotle on Townpark Lane

Feb. 24: Guston’s Grille, Huey Luey’s and Laredo’s Mexican Restaurant on Cobb Parkway

March 13: Flying Biscuit Café and Moe’s on Barrett Parkway; Dickey’s BBQ Restaurant on Ridenour Boulevard

March 18: Mellow Mushroom on Powers Ferry Road

HOW WE GOT THIS STORY

While reading through Cobb County arrest warrants, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found several arrest warrants for the same suspect. From there, our reporter questioned the agencies involved and learned the crime spree likely extended to neighboring counties.

In Other News