Police said a car alarm helped signal the apparent end of a theft ring in North Olmsted when North Olmsted Police early June 1 arrested three juveniles suspected of breaking into at least 20 vehicles in recent weeks.
They were caught around 1 a.m. on June 29 near the Jamestown Apartments, near where most of the thefts had taken place. After hearing a car alarm in the area, police set up a perimeter that led to the suspects’ arrest.
The oldest individual is 17 years old. The other two are 15. All are residents of North Olmsted. All three will be charged with theft and curfew violations, according to Chief Jamie Gallagher. He said department officers are looking into the possibility of other people being involved in the thefts.
“We’re still waiting on other complaints to come in regarding theft from autos,” he said. “We’ve had a couple others filter in, but I haven’t had a chance to read over those to see if they’re related to this incident or not.”
The police have confirmed at least nine incidents involving theft from vehicles in the last several weeks, but when apprehended, police said the youths allegedly admitted to breaking into 20 vehicles. Police said two of the juveniles have been in trouble before.
Gallagher said crimes such as these are “crimes of opportunity,” which can often be prevented. He said North Olmsted has dealt with a fair amount of thefts from vehicles over the last few years, especially GPS systems, radar detectors and money left in unlocked cars.
“It’s a reminder to people to lock their vehicles,” he said. “Take your items of value and bring them into the house. Don’t just lock the doors, bring those items into the house. If you leave an item in a car, it belongs to whoever can view it and open that door.”
Gallagher also said police are looking into the possibility of charging parents under curfew statutes since their children were out past midnight.
“We’re looking at charging the parents of these juveniles that were out with a curfew violation for failing to keep their children in,” he said.
According to Lt. Mike Kilbane, who is the midnight shift commander, the car alarm was heard during the early morning hours of June 29, and police set up a perimeter.
Sgt. Mark Goodwin maneuvered the suspects toward other officers, and they were caught by Patrolman Manny Roman.
The incident also reunited one man with a priceless item he thought had been taken from him. and turned a negative theft into a positive.
A camera recovered from one vehicle was returned to a thankful owner, said Kilbane. The man’s camera had the only pictures of his father’s funeral on it, and he thought they were gone forever.
“The gentleman was overjoyed,” Kilbane said of the man’s reaction when it was returned.
If citizens believe they have been the victim of this type of theft, Gallagher said they should contact the police immediately because they may be able to retrieve their stolen property.
“If someone’s been a victim of theft of auto in the last (couple of weeks), they should contact us and file a report,” he said.
Police have an inventory of multiple items that were stolen from vehicles, and they are urging the public to contact the department at 440-777-3535.
(West Life reporter Jon Wysochanski contributed to this story.)