AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A local business owner stands in jeopardy of having to close his business after several break-ins. Craig Johnson told NewsChannel 6 that one of the crimes led to several guns getting into the wrong hands.
The break-ins all happened at Total Performance Automotive on Milledgeville Road, near Barton Chapel Road.
Johnson contacted the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office six different times about crimes at his store since April. The co-owner tells us he’s tired and now he’s broke. But his biggest fear is that three AR 15 rifles are now in the hands of criminals.
“We’re already cripple,” Johnson said. “The next one is going to be the death blow.”
It has been theft on top of theft since April at Total Performance Automotive and they have left Johnson with a loss of roughly $75,000 worth of cash, tools and property.
He told us, “I can’t afford to stay here. This has pretty much bankrupt the business right here.”
Six case reports have been filed with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for crimes at Total Performance Automotive. Johnson said the first incident was a trailer theft, captured on a surveillance camera that wasn’t his, but the security system business next door.
“After that, we bought a security system,” he said adding that it was complete with a DVR.
Next, Johnson said someone stole his dirt bike from outside the front of his shop. A few days later, he tipped police off about two possible suspects and their known location. In July, the shop had its first break-in, a cinder block through the front window opening the door to the theft of cash, multiple car parts, a motorcycle, a 4-wheeler and the security system ripped out of the store. And worse, three AR 15 rifles gone.
“There’s actually 14 guns in this shop right now,” he said. “A lot of times, I’m working here until 3 o’clock in the morning. I need to have a gun accessible. You never know who’s going to come in here, especially now. I need to have one within ten feet of me.”
The culprits came back Monday through the same damaged window, disabling the alarm without a code and getting away with thousands in tools and cash. Johnson said he knows his zone deputies by name and he also knows who the suspects might be too.
“To know where everything is at, it’s someone who’s been in this building a lot,” he said pointing to the fact that he does have ex-employees.
The Sheriff’s Office said all of the cases are open pending additional leads. But Johnson told us he is already looking into moving his business out of Richmond County.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps