The Decatur Police Department is in the process of investigating the robbery of three Decatur High School students for their iPhones as they left last Friday night’s football game, according to Sgt. Jennifer Ross. In a note to the media, Ross said “identifying and locating the suspects is a top priority for Police Department staff.” Assistance and cooperation are being provided by a sketch artist from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as well as the City Schools of Decatur, Marta Police, DeKalb Police, Atlanta Police and area school resource officers.

“No one wants these incidents stopped more than the City Commission and the City of Decatur Police Department,” said Mayor Jim Baskett. “We are deeply concerned about the incidents and this type of activity is not welcome in our community.”

Chief Mike Booker reports that, “a total of fifteen officers were on duty in the area during the time of Friday night’s robberies. This included the standard six officers at Decatur High School for the football game. In addition, according to our operating procedure, as the game was ending, the on-duty shift was notified and they had responded to the area around the school, as well as the bicycle patrol officer from the Square. There was additional law enforcement staff in the area that was part of security for the Decatur Book Festival. The Decatur Police Department and City Schools of Decatur will continue to work together to put even more safety precautions into effect for future games.”

At the conclusion of the football game on Friday night, officers were dealing with common crowd control issues such as groups of students yelling “fight” and running when generally there is no fight. Due to the nature of the robberies, there were also reporting delays and some of the initial location and type of call information provided to the officers was inaccurate which made it more difficult to respond. The last robbery occurred approximately an hour after the game ended as a group of students returned back to the area around the high school after eating in the downtown area.

In two of the three robberies that occurred Friday night, students were approached and asked for the time before the robbery. The Police Department has also received a report from another student who stated he left the game and was approached by two males who asked for the time and then followed and questioned him about his phone. The student left the area without further incident.

The students who encountered the robbery suspects reported they did not recognize them as fellow Decatur students.

Ross offered up these tips:

  • Do not walk and talk/text on your phone as it distracts you from being aware of your surroundings and it shows potential suspects that you have a phone.
  • Currently a common scam is to approach and ask for the time to get you to pull out your phone. If you are approached, followed or questioned about your phone, leave the area and get to a safe location or go to the closest, trusted adult and call police immediately.
  • If you own a smart phone, research what applications are available and how they work and download the application now. Tracking applications must be downloaded to the phone prior to the theft.
  • Walk in groups but still remain alert.
  • If you are approached by a robbery suspect demanding your phone, cooperate and give them the phone. No phone or item or object is worth jeopardizing your safety.
  • If you are a victim of a robbery immediately report the incident to law enforcement. Be as clear as possible about exactly where the incident occurred and what happened. Provide as much descriptive information as possible to include clothing type and colors, hairstyles and any items being carried by suspects.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.