In the past few weeks, Westlake and Bay Village have experienced an avalanche of car break-ins and car thefts, with Bay Village being the hardest hit of the two. A total of 75 thefts from cars were reported in the past month, with an estimated 15 automobile break-ins over the Labor Day weekend alone.

Most of the cars were unlocked and in driveways. Items taken range from purses and cash to CD players and car radios. In some cases, the cars were stolen outright.

“People are making themselves easy targets,” said Bay Village Police Lt. Mark Palmer. He added that thieves are aware Bay Village residents feel safe enough to leave their cars unlocked.

“That’s why they come here,” Palmer said.

In late July, Bay Village police reported that in the previous few weeks, six cars were stolen and an additional 46 were entered by thieves. Each of the stolen cars had unlocked doors and the keys left inside, police said.

In more recent incidents, most are taking place east of Columbia Road, Palmer said.

The number of cars stolen in the month prior to Sept. 8 reached 11.

“It’s very unusual,” Palmer said.

Of the 11 recent thefts, nine of the cars were recovered in Cleveland. Palmer did not know the conditions of the recovered cars. There have been no arrests.

Because of the large number of vehicles involved, Palmer declined to give exact details on each theft.

Police continue to use social media to urge residents to take precautions, to not leave keys in cars and to lock doors upon exiting their vehicles. In addition, Bay police are stepping up patrols.

“We have a plan in place,” Palmer said, declining to offer any details.

In Westlake, the number of stolen cars is smaller but still alarming to Capt. Gerry Vogel. Five thefts occurred from Aug. 30 to Thursday. Three cars disappeared Aug. 30. A GMC Yukon was stolen overnight from the 2400 block of Meadow Lane, west of Walter Road.

That morning, a Mercedes was reported stolen at 8:15 a.m. from the 2400 block of Framingham Drive near Carillon Drive. A LoJack device traced the car to an address on Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland. Cleveland police could not find the vehicle in the area, but they created a report regarding the car.

Just before 9:30 a.m. Aug. 30, someone swiped a Ford F-150 from the 1200 block of Claugue Road near Belmont Drive. The Ohio State Highway Patrol recovered the truck about an hour later on West 70th Street in Cleveland. The truck was abandoned, but a nearby resident told police they witnessed a white male running from the vehicle. Officials found the keys to the truck on the porch of a home in the 700 block of Camden Avenue, which intersects with West 70th.

Two more vehicles were stolen Sept. 7. A Nissan was taken from Wilderness Trail east of Marshfield Boulevard and an Audi was reported missing about 3 p.m. from Annie Lane, west of Brantwood Drive. Neither vehicle had been recovered as of presstime.

There were 18 thefts from cars in August, according to police Sgt. John Mauer.

Vogel described the thefts as “crimes of opportunity,” meaning the cars were left unlocked and/or with the keys inside. He encouraged residents to get into the habit of checking their cars and homes at 9 p.m. every evening, ensuring keys are not left in vehicles and all doors and windows are closed and locked.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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