COVINGTON — Tarquinius Mack, 17, of Atlanta, the suspect identified by Covington Police in connection with the theft of vehicles from Planet Fitness locations in Covington and Conyers and several other locations in Georgia and surrounding states, was captured over the weekend in Panama City Beach, Fla.
The story of Mack’s criminal activities was featured on A&E’s Live P.D. on Feb. 21.
According to Covington Police Department Capt. Ken Malcom, Mack allegedly used false identification to obtain a temporary membership at the Planet Fitness on U.S. Highway 278 in Covington in January, stole the keys to a truck from the men’s locker room and then stole the truck from the parking lot. Mack is believed to be part of a group that has committed similar crimes in Cobb, Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.
Security footage showed the suspect in a wig as he walked around the gym, not using any equipment. Security footage then shows him in the parking lot walking to the 2017 brown Ford F-150 that he allegedly stole. The truck was recovered in Atlanta earlier this month.
Before escaping in the truck, security footage also shows the suspect using credit cards left inside the vehicle at the adjacent Kroger to purchase around $1,000 worth of gift cards.
Covington Police detectives had been able to locate and began following Mack on social media, which resulted in two near encounters with the 17-year-old in Atlanta and Lexington, Ky.
At one point, detectives learned that Mack had bought a bus ticket and was planning to leave Atlanta. Officers from Covington and Conyers, along with the Newton County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals, converged on the Atlanta bus station only to discover that Mack had cancelled his ticket.
Detectives received another tip that Mack might be in Lexington, Ky., and called law enforcement agencies in the area. Shortly after they were notified, a vehicle theft similar in style to what Mack was allegedly committing in Georgia was reported in Lexington.
After Mack's story was featured on “Live P.D.," Covington Detective Travis Pierce began getting additional tips immediately after the segment aired. Police said they knew Mack had been traveling to several states in the eastern portion of the country and that this segment could prove to be helpful to law enforcement in getting additional credible tips to help them catch the suspect.
Mack was captured in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Sunday. It is not known at this time if the airing of his story on TV aided in his arrest.
Malcom said the diligent work of his detectives gathering and sharing their information with other agencies finally paid off.
"We're very pleased that we got him off the street," Malcom said.
Mack faces charges in Covington, Conyers and several other jurisdictions in Georgia and possibly other states, so he could be going from court to court to court for some time to come.