ATHENS, Ga. — When thieves broke into an Athens tool supply store Sunday night or early Monday morning, it was the fifth time a Fastenal location was burglarized within a week.
A Fastenal store in Watkinsville, Ga., was hit Sunday, after three others were broken into the previous Sunday in Augusta, Martinez and Aiken, according to Athens-Clarke police.
Lt. Mike McKeel, an Athens-Clarke Eastside property crime supervisor, was stumped as to why thieves seem to be targeting the national tool supply chain’s outlets.
“We got information last month out of Marietta that a dozen or so Fastenal stores were burglarized in the Atlanta metro area,” he said. “It’s crazy. I can’t think of any one company that (thieves) have seemingly targeted before like this.”
The detective who is investigating the Athens burglary will coordinate efforts with police in other communities where Fastenal stores have been burglarized, McKeel said.
According to news reports, many other stores have been broken into in other states, from Ohio to Louisiana.
Fastenal is a national chain that sells tools, parts, nuts and bolts, office supplies, building and plumbing materials and equipment. Officials with the Minnesota-based company could not be reached for comment.
In the Watkinsville burglary, it appeared as though the thieves had a shopping list of particular items to steal, Watkinsville Police Chief Lee O’Dillon said.
“They were very selective in what they took,” O’Dillon said.
Thieves pried open a door of the Fastenal store on Business Boulevard between noon Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday and stole a miter saw, a drill, and more than 30 power saw blades in different sizes, he said.
“Some of the blades had 19 teeth, some had 16 teeth, and some had five teeth,” O’Dillon said. “They reached over more expensive items to get those blades – it’s real peculiar.”
Also over the weekend, thieves broke through the front door of a Fastenal store in Augusta and stole three ladders and seven power tools, and $160 in cash, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
In the Athens burglary, thieves got into the Fastenal store on Olympic Drive by breaking a glass door between 8 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday, and all they stole were rolls of coins worth $60, Athens-Clarke police said.
Investigators think it might have taken too much time for the thieves to pry open a cash register and cash box, so they left without taking any tools or other merchandise before police arrived.
Police had alerted the manager of the local Fastenal about the burglaries in the metro Atlanta area, and even increased patrols around the business before this week’s break-in, according to McKeel.
The Olympic Drive store has an alarm system, but not one that’s activated by broken glass, police said.
A shelf inside the store blocked a motion detector, police said, and officers tried to re-create the crime by crawling on the floor to the service counter from where they money – and they did so undetected by sensors.
Authorities don’t know why burglars have been breaking into so many Fastenal stores, or even if the crimes are related.
“If we could figure out how these people think, we could all retire early,” McKeel said.