AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – (WJW) – Police agencies across Northeast Ohio are trying to figure out if the same group of brazen thieves are stealing luxury vehicles from high-end dealerships.
More than three dealerships have been hit and police hope to stop the criminals before they strike again.
Law enforcement across Ohio, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, are pooling their resources to catch these luxury car thieves. They say it appears to be more than a coincidence that in recent weeks, the culprits have struck in Cuyahoga, Geauga and now Summit counties.
Around 7:15 p.m. Thursday morning, Akron police were called to the Ganley Mercedes-Benz of Akron on East Market Street for a reported break-in.
“Things were broken. We see where they got in, keys that were rummaged through on the ground, so we haven’t assessed everything yet,” said an employee on a 911 call.
When officers arrived, they discovered broken glass and employees had determined that several keys to vehicles were missing.
“It took a very short period of time for them to determine that three vehicles were stolen from the lot,” said Akron police Lt. Michael Miller.
All three stolen vehicles were 2023 Mercedes-Benz models and were taken sometime overnight, while the dealership was closed.
“The vehicles were recovered unoccupied, the Akron detectives received information, developed information that pointed them in the direction of Cleveland,” said Lt. Miller.
Two of the three vehicles, now in the dealership’s service garage, were discovered on two side streets in the area near East 105th and St. Clair in Cleveland. The third Mercedes has not yet been found.
“I’m not sure exactly how the cars were damaged. I could tell you that I was told that both of the interior of both vehicles were rummaged through,” said Lt. Miller.
This is the latest of a series of thefts of high-end vehicles stolen from dealerships in Northeast Ohio. Police say the thieves use the same method of operation: break in, steal the keys, then the cars.
Less than three weeks ago, police in Geauga County pursued three high performance vehicles that were reported stolen from the Junction Auto Family dealership near Chardon.
The stolen vehicles included sports cars and a jeep, valued between $56,000 and $90,000.
For safety, officers had to eventually terminate the pursuit.
Investigators say few Dodge and Jeep dealers carry vehicles with these types of high-powered engines.
Earlier this week, surveillance video captured four suspects stealing luxury cars, including Mercedes, Lexus and Audi from the Fiat and Alfa Romeo of Strongsville dealership. A total of seven vehicles were stolen, some were recovered, which leads police to believe more thieves are involved.
“They’re working to determine what, if any, connection exists between those incidents up north. It is very possible that there is a connection and they’re working to determine what that connection may be,” Miller said.
Police describe the car thieves as elaborate and sophisticated. They are trying to determine whether they are part of an organized car theft ring.
Investigators are unsure if they are stealing them for joyrides or to commit other crimes, but GPS technology has helped locate some of the cars.
They are urging high-end, luxury car dealers to be on the lookout.