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Shoplifters take $9,000 in coats from Outlets
Authorities say crime at mall on the increase
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A pair of brazen thieves lifted nearly 20 designer jackets valued at more than $9,000 from a shop at North Georgia Premium Outlets Friday evening.

Workers at Burberry said the couple was in the outlet store an hour earlier and asked to place some shoes and a belt on hold.

When they returned just after 6 p.m., Dawson County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten said they swiped the jackets, ranging in price from $405-595 each, off the racks and fled the store.

Investigators believe they were driving a "newer model white Chrysler with no tag showing," Wooten said.

The alleged shoplifters are described as a 6' 2" black male weighing between 180-190 pounds wearing a gray hoodie and gray pants.

The woman, who had bleached blond hair, was wearing black and purple pants with a black top. Witnesses said the black female was about 5' 6" tall and 130 pounds.

While the Dawsonville outlets have experienced its share of crime over the years, the outdoor mall on Ga. 400 has recently become a hotbed for criminal activity, most notably thefts, according to local investigators.

Burberry was hit once more over the summer when three suspects used a sledgehammer Aug. 15 to burst through the front glass before getting away with more than $20,000 in designer handbags, clothing and accessories.

Less than two weeks earlier, a woman entered the Zales Outlet just after opening, brandished a firearm , forced employees to a back room where she zip-tied their and escaped with $13,000 in jewels.

Authorities believe the outlets are considered easy targets for crime because of the mall's proximity to Ga. 400 and its quick access south to the Atlanta area.

No arrests have been made in any of the cases.

Maj. Ray Goodie, commander of Dawson County's criminal investigation division, said the outlet mall remains an easy target for theft.

"Over the last six months we've had increased shopliftings, increased entering autos. We've had robberies, and we've had smash and grabs all that are focusing around the outlet mall," he said.

Goodie encourages store management to take a proactive approach by having up-to-date and working video surveillance, as well as making sure employees know how to properly operate the equipment.

"The bigger problem is that when that one person gets away with it, they go and tell five or six of their friends, and then those five or six friends come up here and do the same," he said. "Over time, you end up with a large amount of people that know they can come up here and get away with it."

Surveillance cameras in the parking lots of the mall would also help, he said.

"If you make it a harder target where the cost outweighs the benefit from robbing it, that's what you use to deter the robber," he said.

Mall management and security have said they work closely with authorities to share information that may lead to the arrest of the individuals involved in thefts at the mall.

"North Georgia Premium Outlets is committed to providing a safe, quality-shopping environment and takes several proactive security measures, including maintaining security patrol of our property and surrounding parking lots, and provides shoppers and employees with security escorts to their vehicles upon request," the mall management recently released in a statement.

Investigators continue to comb through evidence from the latest incident, including reviewing video surveillance from surrounding stores.

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to call the Dawson County Sheriff's Office at (706) 344-3535.