Dozens of Northeast Ohio cities targeted by a crew of teenage car thieves

Dozens of Northeast Ohio cities targeted by a crew of teenage car thieves

BRUNSWICK, Ohio (WOIO) - Authorities across nearly every city in Northeast Ohio have been dealing with a surge of car thefts.

Police believe it is the same crew of thieves committing most of these crimes, and the crooks are mostly teenagers.

“You know every day it seems to get bigger and bigger,” said Detective Sarah Merhaut with Brunswick Police. “More and more vehicles are stolen, multiples at a time, here and there, single vehicles from driveways, businesses, dealerships.”

Detective Merhaut said she cannot think of a city in Northeast Ohio that hasn’t been hit.

She has been on the case for months.

She says just in Brunswick, they’ve had more than a dozen cars were stolen and dozens more broken into.

“It seems pretty orchestrated in that there are several people that will come to a particular area looking for cars, pulling on door handles, running house to house and just get dropped off by the main car that delivers them to the town, and then everybody seems to scurry and go door to door to door, and a lot of times people leave their keys in the car, or they leave drugs in the car, they leave firearms in the car, and they just pilfer through anything that’s unlocked and take whatever they can and if there are keys in the car or if the cars parked close enough to the residence where the key fob is hanging it might start by then just jumping in pushing on the pedal and pushing the button if it’s a push start vehicle,” Merhaut said.

This crew of thieves has shown no signs of slowing down.

“You know the weekends coming, so I anticipate more, and I don’t know when it’s gonna stop quite frankly,” said Detective Merhaut.

Brunswick Police has arrested several people for the thefts and has charges pending for others, but they know there are many more thieves still out there.

Detective Merhaut recently interviewed one of the crooks.

“This is low risk and high gain for them,” explained the detective. “If you can steal a car in a very poorly lit, dark night time area and get onto the freeway, you’re golden, and wherever you go, you’re gonna sell that car and make money for it, or you’re gonna do what you need to do what you need to do with it, and during my one interview they said, ‘You’re stupid.’ Quite frankly, you leave your keys in the car and I can’t say that I don’t disagree.”

Detective Merhaut said the thieves typically strike between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

She also said they have no problem going into unlocked garages or homes to find the keys too.

“The police can put out every public service announcement we possibly can every day until you know we’re blue in the face, but people will still continue to leave their keys in their car, they’ll leave their purses in their car, their firearms, their laptops, their wallets,” said Merhaut. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your valuables if you don’t want them stolen.”

It’s not just the suburbs of Cleveland getting hit. Detectives say the city of Cleveland has been a target too.

They say most of the stolen cars are being recovered in Cleveland, and the majority of the violent crimes these cars are being used to commit are happening in Cleveland too.

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