CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley announced on Friday 13 teenagers are responsible for a crime spree of which the county’s top prosecutor had never seen before.
“I can’t say in my three years in the office we’ve seen this type of rash of criminal activity on both sides of our county,” O’Malley said. “But again the point here today is we’ve got to prevent it.”
Flanked by members of O’Malley’s juvenile prosecution team, video after video showed teenagers in stolen cars committing crimes at multiple gas stations.
In one case, a car stolen in the morning from a gas station near Edgewater Park was later that day to steal another car from a station on Memphis Avenue in Cleveland.
“Basically this group took whatever they could find,” prosecutor Brett Kyker said as he showed several surveillance videos.
The crime spree went from Jan. 7 though Feb. 21 and included at least 17 vehicle thefts and countless thefts from people’s cars who were either pumping gas or inside the station.
Of the 13 arrested, at least one faces 80 different charges connected to 10 different incidents.
The communities targeted span the whole county from Cleveland, to Parma and Parma Heights, Lakewood, Middleburg Heights and Cleveland Heights.
In Cleveland Heights alone they are looking at 80 different incidents in the span of two months.
All total eight different departments spent countless hours on the case.
“Sometimes they’d find 100 pieces of property in a car,” Prosecutor Joanna Whinery said. “We’d have to piece together who’s property was it, when was it taken.”
A lot of these were crimes of opportunity where people either left cars running and went inside a gas station, or left purses on passenger seats while pumping gas.
The videos showed thieves were extremely good a slipping between cars in busy gas stations and quietly opening car doors.