Atlanta car theft suspect arrested for 27th time, cops say


April 18, 2020


Shaddi Abusaid, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The suspected leader of a metro Atlanta auto theft ring is back behind bars after getting arrested for the 27th time, police said.

Willie James Banks was arrested Thursday by the Atlanta Police Department’s Auto Crimes Enforcement Unit, authorities said in a news release.

Officers spotted his 2010 Chevrolet Malibu while patrolling in northwest Atlanta. Banks, who was wanted on multiple felony charges, including auto theft, attempted to flee officers after he was followed to the driveway of a home on Ruth Street, Atlanta police said in a Facebook post. 

According to investigators, he nearly ran into several officers and crashed his Malibu into a Georgia Department of Public Safety vehicle before being pulled from his car and arrested.

Police said they’ve been tracking Banks and two of his alleged accomplices as part of a broader auto theft investigation. 

“The men have been part of an elaborate ring to steal cars from parking lots, parking garages and hotels, mostly in downtown Atlanta and Buckhead,” Atlanta police said in the release. “They often would scout vehicles to steal and use a pickup truck outfitted with a wheel lift to tow the targeted vehicles.”

It was at least the 27th time Banks has been arrested, authorities said. He also has three felony convictions for breaking into cars and theft. 

In addition to his outstanding warrants, Banks now faces charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, reckless driving, interference with government property, theft by taking and felony obstruction, records show. He remains held at the Fulton County Jail without bond.