‘If you don’t lock it, you could lose it:’ Car thefts, carjackings on the rise in NE Ohio

I-Team

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS – Police all over Northeast Ohio are noticing an increase in carjackings and car thefts.

“It’s happening all over Ohio all over the country,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “We are seeing crazy numbers when it comes to stolen vehicles.”

Officials say nationally a car is stolen every 43 seconds.

And several Cleveland suburbs have also noticed an increase in carjackings.  University Heights police are investigating a carjacking that happened Tuesday. A couple robbed at gunpoint while unloading groceries in their driveway.  On Wednesday, a food delivery driver was carjacked in Cleveland Heights.

“I was holding my keys and my wallet, he grabbed my keys and he had a gun,” the victim told 911 around 6 p.m. Wednesday. “He got in the car and the other young man came up to me and took my wallet. “

Cleveland Heights police say no arrests have been made and they are continuing to search for the vehicle.

Santiago said from 2016 to 2020 the patrol has recovered around 1600 vehicles in Northeast Ohio.  So far this year, they have recovered 137 stolen vehicles.

“We have an entire vehicle theft unit and when we get a lead or we get some information we follow up on that information,” Santiago said.  

Officials, however, say that nationally 44 percent of stolen vehicles are not recovered.  Troopers offer this advice so you are not the next victim.

“There are several easy things you can do to avoid being a victim of car theft,” Santiago said. “Park in a well-lit area, make sure there are no valuables exposed and lock your cars. That’s a big one. If you don’t lock it,  you could lose it. “

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