Cleveland Police Chief says no plans to bring back auto theft unit

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Last night, a 21-year-old woman was killed when a stolen Kia slammed into hers. 19 News learned that one of the kids in the stolen car was only 12 years old.

Sadly, it’s just one of many tragedies that highlight the growing problem in our city, car thefts are exploding.

So far in 2023, thieves have stolen close to 4,000 cars in Cleveland, that’s a 94% increase compared to this time last year.

19 Investigates asked Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond, point blank, what can be done.

“We haven’t had an auto theft unit in I would say 15 years if not longer,” said Chief Drummond. “We disbanded that many many moons ago so to speak. Each district has a detective unit, and the commander has his or her discretion to assign officers to make sure that they’re following up on all the thefts, so we have dedicated officers in all the districts to follow up on all the thefts.”

In 2004 Cleveland police cut their auto theft unit down from 12 officers to only two due to budget cuts.

“We have detectives in all the districts that are conducting auto theft investigations and then we have different details as we call them where we get together with Ohio state highway patrol, our specialized units,” Drummond explained.

Chief Drummond said there are no plans to bring back the auto theft unit but said CPD takes car thefts very seriously.

“When you come out from your home or your business or you’re shopping or at a gas station and your cars gone, that’s serious and that hurts and as it should and so forth and so for us and for me, we take that very seriously because we know it’s a property of someone,” Chief Drummond said. “It could be their only means of transportation to get them back and forth to work or a doctor’s appointment and so forth so we know how important that is so we do everything we can to recover those particular vehicles as well as hold those responsible for stealing the cars in the first place.”

CPD also has a new initiative they’re working on with Ohio State Highway Patrol to track down stolen cars. The Chief said it’s already started.

“I’m not hiding if they’re coming,” said Chief Drummond. “Absolutely highway patrol with their aviation unit, our helicopters, and so forth and we’re gonna be out there we’re gonna be looking for auto thefts, aggressive drivers, traffic enforcement, those carrying guns illegally and so forth and we’re gonna be doing that on a regular and consistent basis.”