Louis Mitchell Jr. saw a brilliant opportunity when thousands of Georgia motorists abandoned their cars on snow-paralyzed roads this past week, authorities say.
Police say he used a tow truck he had stolen earlier in January to haul away four cars left on roads – and without anyone’s permission.
Online jail records show the Atlanta Police Department also arrested Mitchell on suspicion of driving with a suspended or revoked license, using a fake license plate, damaging property and three instances of forgery.
After traffic jams that state officials described as unprecedented, towing firms were hired to remove some vehicles impeding traffic. Police were ordered to look out for potential looters, and Mitchell’s unmarked tow truck caught a police officer’s attention.
The snow started Tuesday and accumulated about two inches, but road crews were largely unprepared for that type of storm and the volume of traffic on the roads due to early dismissal of schools and businesses.
At one point Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Safety announced that 2,029 vehicles were left on metro-area interstates. Later that day, 147 remained and were impounded. The state said it would cover towing and impound fees.
The winter storm led to at least two deaths, 184 injuries and 1,500 car accidents across Georgia, state troopers said.