'Staged' accidents, carjackings on the rise in Northeast Ohio

Updated: Dec. 19, 2016 at 5:07 PM EST
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DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Police departments across northeast Ohio are warning drivers about a dangerous trend of "bump-and-carjackings."

Here's how it works: criminals cause a fender-bender, and when the victim exits to check out the damage they jump in the victim's car and take off.

"The next thing I knew he had opened the door and had gotten into the car, pushed me on the ground, and then got in the car and sped off," said victim Phyllis Asnien.

Beachwood police say the same suspect pulled that stunt twice that night.

"I was in the car, someone hit me from behind, and I got out to check the damage and then the person jumped in my car and drove away," said another victim on a 911 call.

Asnien's story is one of several like it recently in northeast Ohio -- drivers who've been hit from behind by crooks looking to use a fender-bender to steal a car. And the cases are piling up.

On Friday, a Cleveland Clinic employee leaving the Children's Rehab Center was rear-ended by someone at the intersection of Buckeye and Woodland. The thief then got in her car and crashed it about a quarter of a mile away.

The Cleveland Clinic issued a warning to employees about this criminal trend. They say they've increased police patrols of all parking areas and are working on investigating this in coordination with the Cleveland Police Department.

Earlier this month there were also two staged accidents in Euclid which resulted in stolen cars. One was on Dec. 5 near Lakeshore Boulevard and E. 216th, and another a week before that took place near Kennison and E. 218th.

Security expert Tim Dimoff says if you do get hit, take the keys out of the ignition to prevent a carjacking. And if they demand them, throw them.

Police also say take note of the car that hit you, as well as the people inside, before getting out.

Here are some other tips from police to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Stay alert.
  • When stopped, use your rear and side view mirrors to check your surroundings.
  • Keep some distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Keep your phone nearby.
  • Park in a well-lit area.

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