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Athens police searching for thief who they say used stolen car as a taxi, kidnapped two chilren

Clayton Anthony Looney as he appeared in a 2016 jail booking photo

By Joe Johnson

Athens-Clarke County police are looking for a man who reportedly stole a car from an eastside convenience store last week then on Saturday used the vehicle as a private taxi which he allegedly used to kidnap two young children.

The chain of events began the night of Oct. 14 at Quick Pantry on North Avenue, where an Athens man left his girlfriend's black 2018 Nissan Sentra running while he went into the store, according to a police report.

After a few minutes, the man came out of the store and exchanged words with an unknown male who, when the man went back into the store, jumped into the Nissan and dove away on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, according to the report.

Three days later, at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, on officer spotted the stolen car in the area of the Athens Perimeter and Oconee Street and other officer arrived and attempted to make a traffic stop on Old Winterville Road, according to police Capt. Christopher Nichols.

The Nissan did not immediately stop, but it slowed down, but it slowed down and few passengers got out, Nichols said.

“The vehicle then sped off down Arch St. at a high rate of speed,” he said. “When officers spoke with the passengers, they reported the driver drove off with their children,” ages two and five.

The driver, identified as 23-year-old Clayton Anthony Looney of Royston, “was operating as a private rideshare taxi service in the stolen vehicle and was providing the passengers a ride,” Nichols said. “Looney told the passengers to get out, but took off before the mother could get all of her kids.”

According to Nichols, “A police hunt began for Looney, and a broadcast was sent to the public. Looney called the passenger and told her the kids were safe and someone was bringing them back home. The children arrived home physically unharmed.”

Looney and stolen vehicle were not located, he said, and warrants were obtained charging Looney with two counts of kidnapping and one count each of theft by taking a motor vehicle, and fleeing and eluding police

The black Sentra displayed Georgia tag RKV2856.

Police described Looney as a white male who is about 5-6 to 5-9, and approximately 150 pounds.

Anyone with information pertaining to this case is asked by police to contact Detective Paul Johnson at 762-400-7060.

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