Police: Man arrested with stolen tow truck; charged with stealing cars abandoned in storm

A man arrested for allegedly stealing abandoned vehicles during the snow-induced traffic gridlock in metro Atlanta this week has been issued a hefty bond.

The bond amount for Louis Mitchell Jr., 34, was set at $92,000 during his first court appearance on Saturday, said Tracy Flanagan, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.

According to police, Mitchell was spotted by Atlanta police officer Jamael Logan driving an unmarked tow truck and pulling a car at the intersection of Hatcher Avenue and Washington Street on Thursday in southeast Atlanta.

When Logan tried to stop the tow truck, Mitchell kept going and the officer gave chase, police said.

The driver and a passenger jumped from the truck as it was still moving and fled on foot, letting the truck crash into a cement barrier on Pulliam Street, police said.

More officers and a police dog were called to the location to track down the suspects and were able to find Mitchell, the alleged driver, at a home near where the tow truck crashed.

Further investigation determined that the tow truck had been stolen from Loganville earlier this month, and the Toyota Camry being towed was taken from one of the cars a car left stranded on I-85 near I-285 and was taken without permission, police said.

Police searching the tow truck found falsified State of New York vehicle documents with VIN numbers belonging to other vehicles reported reports stolen Thursday from Atlanta and DeKalb County, according to reports.

Auto theft investigators found three more cars in the backyard of a nearby house in the 900 block of Washington Street that had been stolen Thursday from I-20 and I-75, police said.

Police officials applauded Logan for making the arrest amid the confusion of the retrieval of cars stranded in Gridlockalypse 2014.

“We knew that opportunistic thieves could take advantage of the misfortunes of others and directed officers to aggressively patrol all areas where vehicles had been abandoned,” Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. Greg Lyon said. “Officer Logan’s attention to detail ensured the arrest of Louis Mitchell and the recovery of five stolen vehicles.”

Residents at the Washington Street home told police that Mitchell paid them to store the cars there, authorities said. The also identified the man who they said was riding with Mitchell and helping him load and unload vehicles, police said.

Mitchell is being held in the Fulton County jail on five counts of theft by taking auto, three counts of second-degree forgery and one count each of criminal damage to property, affixing a license plate to conceal, and driving with a suspended license, according to records. His next court appearance is Feb. 14 at the Fulton County Justice Center.