CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - This 19 News Crime Alert isn’t for just one community, it spans the entire Cleveland viewing area.
Police are warning car owners about a gang of crooks – targeting vehicles to break into and steal.
19 News has been following this months-long crime trend and have learned the majority of the victims have one thing in common: they’ve left their vehicles unlocked and the key fob is often left inside.
At least eight suburban communities have been hit by car thieves over the past several months, and while their crimes are often caught on surveillance video, they seem to make a quick getaway.
The bandits have been caught on surveillance camera in several communities, but that’s not deterring what police suspect is an organized crime ring of car thieves operating in Northeast Ohio.
In one case the criminals stole a nearly 2020 Porsche worth nearly $100,000 right out of a driveway.
Detectives believe at least four people are involved in crime ring stealing dozens of vehicles from numerous west side suburbs, and breaking into dozens of other cars and trucks stealing wallets, purses, and whatever they can get their hands on.
The communities hit include Bay Village, Beachwood, Brunswick, Medina, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Westlake, and Willoughby.
Of those communities, Bay Village appears to be the hardest hit with 15 vehicles stolen and 83 vehicles with items taken from inside.
Multiple police agencies have put out a warning to everyone to be careful and be on the lookout.
Almost every crime happened overnight between 1-5 a.m., and the majority of police departments have said the victims have unfortunately created a crime of opportunity for the suspects.
A Medina Police Captain said, “It’s a plain and simple fact, the cars were left unlocked, the keys inside, case closed.”
Investigators say by leaving vehicle doors open and keys fobs in the car along with valuables, you’re giving thieves easy access to your items, and making it easier for them to get away quickly.
Police also said it’s important to make sure you lock doors from your garage into your home, in case someone gets their hands on your garage door opener.
Bay Village police did make an arrest of one person in connection with a vehicle theft. On Star was used to find the vehicle, and the suspect was found sleeping inside the car.
But police believe an organized theft ring of four or more people are behind the majority of the vehicle thefts and break-ins.