PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The tide may be turning in the battle by local police to stop smash-and-grab thieves who have destroyed dozens of local businesses in their pursuit of ATMs.
In the latest in a string of arrests by suburban police departments, Parma Heights police busted two smash-and-grab suspects Wednesday morning after a high-speed chase.
They began pursuit of two stolen minivans which were spotted by an officer outside of a cash loan store.
The use of two vans matches the m.o. of so-called smash-and-grab thieves, who have been tearing Cleveland area small businesses apart for the past couple of years.
The suspects in one of the vans bailed out in a Parma Heights neighborhood, and let the van crash into a house.
One of the men scaled a fence and got away, but the other was quickly captured.
Parma Heights and other surrounding departments continued their pursuit of the other stolen minivan into the City of Cleveland, which rarely allows its own officers to engage in such chases. The van was smoking and giving off sparks from a blown tire as the pursuit reached downtown Cleveland.
The suspects eventually decided to get off the Innerbelt at Chester Avenue and bailed out.
The two men ran in opposite directions, but police later found one of them hiding in a dumpster.
Jehjuan Durrah, 18, and the suspect who could not jump the fence, Ravenel Young, 30, are now facing charges that include receiving stolen property, fleeing and eluding, and obstructing justice.
Parma Heights say their officers followed the department's pursuit policy and had every right to chase the minivan into Cleveland.
"Well, the bottom line is we don't know who these offenders are, and they're stolen autos, so unless we catch them, we can't charge anyone; we can't allow these offenders to come into our city, into these suburbs, dart back to Cleveland. We've got to make a stand and that's what our officers did," said Captain Steve Scharschmidt.
Parma Heights police hope the arrests send a strong message. "It affects our businesses; we're talking about property damage, so it does make sense and we have to make our stand and we need to make arrests on this," Scharschmidt said.