I-Team: Could area carjackings be connected?

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The FOX 8 I-Team has found a new push by local, state, and federal investigators to look for possible connections between carjackings making headlines throughout Northeast Ohio.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Strategies Unit is meeting with detectives and going over piles of reports.

We’ve reported on several recent carjackings in Lakewood, plus others in Cleveland including one outside St. Ignatius, and more.

The I-Team has found last year in Cleveland alone there were 236 reports of vehicles taken by force. And the year before, 203 cases. Plus, last year in Cleveland, police took in more than 9,000 reports of stolen vehicles that were not taken by force.

Asst. Cuyahoga Co. Prosecutor Eleina Thomas said, "We are looking across the county, as well as across the surrounding counties.” She added, "Is there something we can identify where law enforcement can target a certain area or a group of people to get some relief for the citizens of Cuyahoga County and the surrounding counties?"

The prosecutor’s office says the feds are already considering whether or not carjacking suspects could face federal charges with tougher penalties.

The same unit looking at this problem worked with Cleveland police to break up an organized ring of thieves stealing ATMs.

Now, the investigation is asking, are the carjackings connected? Are they all separate crimes? What can be done about them?

No telling how long it may take to find a common thread or determine there is no connection. But for now, a big part of the work involves getting detectives from different areas to share clues about similar crimes.

Safety experts say if you get carjacked, first give the robbers what they want. And, if at all possible, try to find a way to get out of the car before they drive off so that you don’t end up held hostage in your own vehicle.

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