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Burglars, Like Fools, Are Not Suffered Gladly In East Lake

One would-be burglar is thwarted in the act of allegedly trying to steal lawn mower.

East Lake's Deb Johnson and Lanard Atkins aren't to be trifled with when it comes to crime.

The two, who are neighbors on Alston Drive SE, thwarted a would-be burglar of another homeowner's residence, just minutes after she left for a coffee run.

Atlanta police arrested Bernard Cooper, whose criminal record dates back to 1989 and charged him in the botched burglary.

Atkins, who works from home, was at his desk when he noticed a man go into his neighbor's yard and go around the back.

"I called my neighbors and when they didn't answer, I knew something was wrong," Atkins told East Atlanta Patch.

Atkins, who moved to East Lake four years ago, called Johnson, gave her a run-down of what happened and she immediately called police while he went to investigate.

She then went outside — camera in hand — to snap a picture in case he got away to give police.

"He had broken into their basement and pulled out their lawn mower," she said, explaining the incident occurred just after 9 a.m.

Caught, the unlucky burglar-wannabe tried to walk away, saying that he went to the house only because someone else told him what was there, Atkins said.

"He said he didn't want to go to jail and asked that I don't call the police," he said.

Then the fun began.

The burglar tried to get away but couldn't run fast, at least not fast enough to outrun Atkins and Johnson.

At a pace that was more brisk walk than run, he began apologizing.

"He was sorry he was caught," Atkins said.

The burglar went east on Alston, south on Ashburton Avenue, turned east on Alexa Avenue and then south on Hooper Street where he finally hopped a fence and ran into the backyard of a private residence. There he was trapped until APD Zone 6 officers came and arrested him.

Johnson, a 19-year resident of East Lake, said getting involved wasn't even a question.

As for any fear, the 53-year-old, who also works from home, said she was more incensed than anything else.

"I didn’t realize I could get that angry," she said. "We work hard to make a living to buy things and here this guy comes along trying to break in?"

She said she hopes the experience teaches criminals with an eye toward East Lake one thing: "We're watching."

On Alston Drive, Atkins said neighbors are always watching — and they're involved.

"I'll be damned if you try to break into a house around here where I won't say anything," Atkins said.

"We need to send a hard message. We need to let them know that certain things, we won't stand for."

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