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Press Release

Romanian man sentenced for car burglary crimes in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA - Mihail Ilie has been sentenced for violations of the federal Assimilative Crimes Act for possession of burglary tools and attempted car burglary in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

“National Parks and Recreational Areas serve as refuges for people to relax and enjoy the outdoors without fear of being targeted by criminals like Ilie,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “This case is an example of the importance of citizens reporting property crimes. Without the reports from other visitors to the park who were victims of car burglaries, Rangers would not have identified and arrested Ilie in the act of committing another offense.”

“Parks are places where people tend to let their guard down. Their minds enter a safe mode and they become less vigilant when they start their hike or bike ride,” said Jeston Fisher, Chief Ranger, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  “Law Enforcement at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and around the Metro Atlanta area work very hard to deter crime and more importantly, educate the visitors. Please help by remembering to leave your valuables at home or take them with you when you recreate.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: In August and September 2022, Park Rangers at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area began investigating a rash of car burglaries. The burglaries fit a pattern. The passenger door lock of the car would be forced with a special tool, and any credit and debit cards left in the car would be stolen. The cards would then be used almost immediately at local malls to make high dollar amount purchases, such as jewelry and Apple products. 

Hikers returning to their cars sometimes did not immediately recognize they had been victimized because many drivers unlocked their cars with key fobs and approached from their driver’s side door. Using trail cameras and other investigative techniques, Rangers identified two vehicles frequently present when burglaries were reported.

On September 10, 2022, a Law Enforcement Park Ranger saw Ilie crouched between one of these suspicious vehicles and another car he appeared to be tampering with, and arrested him in the act of breaking into the other car.  Ilie was using a young girl, then just 12 years old, as a lookout. A search of Ilie’s car revealed receipts for jewelry and Apple products, including some out of state purchases, and burglary tools.

After an initial appearance on September 12, 2022, Ilie was detained pending trial as a flight risk. On October 4, 2022, a grand jury indicted Ilie with two felony violations of the federal Assimilative Crimes Act for possession of burglary tools and attempted car burglary. Ilie was convicted of these charges on December 12, 2022, after he pleaded guilty.

Mihail Ilie, 24, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced on April 25, 2023, to one year and a day in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $802. 

This case was investigated by the National Park Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alana R. Black prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated May 1, 2023