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Bandits hit twice over weekend
Could be linked to earlier incident at mall
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Bandits made off with more than $14,000 worth of designer clothing in two separate smash-and-grab robberies over the weekend at North Georgia Premium Outlets, authorities said.


The Polo store was hit about 3:45 a.m. Saturday. Less than 48 hours later, bandits also smashed through a door at Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet. About $7,000 in merchandise was taken from each store, authorities said.


The robberies come less than two weeks after about $25,000 in handbags were swiped Thanksgiving morning from the Coach outlet.


Investigators are reviewing surveillance video from the incidents and surrounding businesses to determine if the same people are responsible.


“Obviously, we believe these are connected and this is the same group,” said Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten. “We’re looking for at least three suspects.”


The incidents each occurred in the early morning hours, between 1:30 and 4 a.m., with the robbers using large rocks to bust out store windows.


In each theft, the bandits are in and out of the stores within a minute, Wooten said.


There were no shoppers at the outlet mall at the time of the break-ins. It could not be determined if mall security was on site.


Officials at the outlet mall said they are working with the sheriff’s office to ensure a safe environment for shoppers. 


Kori Mallett, a spokeswoman for the mall, said in an e-mail that North Georgia Premium Outlets has a “detailed holiday security plan at the center.”


“It is in the public’s best interest that we do not discuss or disclose any enhanced security measures and procedures that we have in place or may institute at any time, some of which are visible to the public, with others intentionally less noticeable,” Mallett wrote.


Wooten said there will also be an increased law enforcement presence at the mall.