It’s a chronic problem investigators say is getting worse and getting tougher for them to stop.
“It’s completely out of control,” said Euclid Police Chief Scott Meyer.
Police and city leaders in Cleveland and Euclid say they are seeing a huge crime wave caused by another recent spike in stolen cars.
Just last week, a Euclid police cruiser was damaged as a 15-year-old driver in a stolen Kia rammed a police car and then led officers on a chase.
“It’s epidemic level,” said Euclid Police Captain Mitch Houser.
Euclid police say, in the last week three months, they have had over 250 reports of stolen vehicles. Including one last week, where officers chased a stolen car that had a mattress and box spring on top of it. The chase went on for a short time before the mattress flew off on I-90 The chase was call off and detectives are searching for the suspects.
Statistics from Cleveland police show grand thefts of motor vehicles are up 95% this year from last year.
Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek said he believes a shooting in a Collinwood neighborhood Sunday afternoon is linked to the stolen vehicles. Polensek said two groups of teenagers shot at each other from two allegedly stolen cars. Over 60 shell casings were found and a passenger in one of the cars, a 17-year-old, was killed.
“They are urban terrorists,” Polensek said. “They terrorize the neighborhoods, they terrorize families.”
Polensek says the city of Cleveland needs more officers on the streets to help reduce violent crime. He noted the shootout in his ward happened less than 14 hours after a mass shooting in the city’s Warehouse District that injured nine people.
The chief says many of the teen suspects are back out on the streets days after they are arrested on charges of grand theft.
“First of all, I think holding offenders accountable is number one,” Myers said. “It never seems to end.”