The hugely popular eastern stretch of the Beltline not only is drawing walkers, runners and bikers, but also a criminal element that finds easy targets in people who are more focused on their cellphones or MP3 players than on their surroundings.
It’s a problem not seen on other sections that have opened in the planned 22-mile loop around the city.
“We’re … asking them to be vigilant. We need people to make sure they do their due diligence,” Atlanta Police Department Maj. Valerie Dalton said of the hundreds of people who visit the Beltline daily.
But there is only so much the police or the Atlanta Beltline Inc. can do to make people safe, officials say.
Since the 2.25-mile stretch on the eastern side of the loop officially opened Oct. 15, three armed robberies have been reported. Yet, two stretches that opened two years ago — 2.4 miles in southwest Atlanta and a mile west of lower Buckhead — have not had any reported crimes.
Michael Folks said he now leaves his iPhone at home when he runs, and he no longer goes onto the Beltline at times when there are few people out, like in the middle of a workday. He stays away once the sun sets.
“I just don’t go up there,” said Folks, who takes his three dogs to a park adjacent to the Beltline daily.
Read more: AJC