An Atlanta Police officer who lives in Buckhead caught an armed-robbery suspect Jan. 25 in the act of breaking into a car in his own apartment complex’s parking garage, according to police officials.

Maj. Andrew Senzer, commander of Buckhead’s Zone 2 police precinct, calls it a “significant arrest” amid a crime wave that is driven by thefts by motor vehicles and gun violence. Some community leaders say it shows the potential value of a program to subsidize rents for police officers to live in local apartments.

According to Zone 2 officers and a police report, the armed robbery happened Jan. 25 at the Elle of Buckhead apartment complex at 235 Pharr Road in Buckhead Village, a street that is one of the current hot spots for crime in the neighborhood. The victim reported that, after parking in the complex’s garage, he was approached by a man who ordered him to the ground at gunpoint. The robber stole the victim’s keys and phone and fled on foot.

Later that same day, the Atlanta Police Department received a call about a prowler in the garage of the Huntley on Park Avenue apartments at 1000 Park Ave., about 1.5 miles away from the robbery scene.

According to accounts by Senzer and Zone 2 Capt. Theosie Williams in recent community meetings, an officer who lives in the Huntley responded and saw a suspect entering a vehicle in the garage. The officer hid behind other vehicles and approached the suspect, who was “rummaging” through the vehicle, according to the police report. The officer then arrested the suspect.

The suspect allegedly carried a 10mm Glock handgun and was found to possess a key fob that belonged to the Pharr Road robbery victim, according to the Zone 2 leaders and the police report.

The suspect was identified by APD as Antwon Klugh, 21, of Atlanta who remained detained in the Fulton County Jail as of Feb. 4. He was jailed on charges of armed robbery, robbery by force, aggravated assault with intent to rob, battery, entering an automobile, terroristic threats, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Many apartment complexes offer discounted rent to police officers to live in their buildings and act as “courtesy officers” to respond to complaints. In addition, the nonprofit Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, a group of self-taxing commercial property owners, offer a program that subsidized rents, at a rate of $650 per month for 12 months, to police officers who live in Buckhead. The longstanding program has been freshly promoted as part of the “Buckhead Security Plan” developed by those and several other organizations in response to the crime increase. Many police officers cannot afford to live in Buckhead due to high rents and home prices.

While it is unclear whether the officer at the Huntley was involved in either type of program, Livable Buckhead and Buckhead CID officials said at a Jan. 27 CID board meeting that it showed the value of housing assistance for public safety officers. However, the rent subsidy has had no takers among Zone 2 officers following the recent promotion, said Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling. Jim Durrett, the CID’s executive director, said the groups need to be patient with the program, as some officers who might be interested remain tied to existing leases for now.

The Huntley is operated by the management arm of Buckhead-based Wood Partners, which is proposing a new apartment building in the Buckhead Place shopping center on Piedmont Road. At a recent zoning review meeting for that project, Wood Partners team members said they were pleased the officer was involved in the Huntley arrest and that they would like to have some type of housing assistance for police officers in their new building.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.