Police issue warning to residents after rash of eastside carjackings

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WICKLIFFE, Ohio (WJW) — A violent home break-in and car theft sent an elderly woman to the hospital and landed a teenager behind bars after a chase caught on police dashcam.

The attack happened as residents in several east side communities had become victims of recent carjackings.

Around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, at East 305th Street and Lakeland Boulevard, a Wickliffe police officer spotted a car that had been reported stolen.

When he pulled up behind it, the driver sped off.

“An elderly female contacted 911, advising that a neighborhood male had entered her residence, struck her in the head, took the car keys to her vehicle and left,” said Wickliffe police Det. Sgt. Manus McCaffery.

The driver led police on a chase through snowy Willowick, Euclid and Cleveland and onto Interstate 90 westbound.

The driver exited at MLK Jr. Drive, got back on 90 eastbound until exiting at East 200th Street, where police say he struck another vehicle before they stopped him.

Although the incident in Wickliffe involved someone who apparently knew his victim, earlier this week, police in Euclid put out a warning about random carjackings happening in the city and surrounding communities.

According to police, there have been 16 carjackings in Euclid over the past ten months in various parts of the city and an attempted one on Tuesday.

Police in neighboring Willowick say just before that, an elderly woman was carjacked when she tried to help a driver who had crashed into a pole.

Instead, he took her car, ran into two vehicles in a shopping center parking lot, and drove into Euclid, where he was arrested at a high-rise apartment building.

“That person was wanted in another city for felonies and also had a history of this type of activity,” said Euclid police Captain Mitch Houser.

Police remind drivers to always be aware of their surroundings, especially at night and when alone.

“Who’s walking toward me? You know, are they acting weird? Am I putting myself in a position where I have no way to escape or no way to defend myself?” says Capt. Houser.

Captain Houser says there could be many reasons for the rash of carjackings in Euclid and across Northeast Ohio.  He believes one reason is that due to COVID-19 health restrictions, jails are unable to keep some criminals, who would otherwise be behind bars.

“With a lack of beds due to the COVID situation down at the jail, unfortunately, we’re seeing an awful lot of people who normally might not be out on the street, are out here and that, of course, is…it’s making a greater number of criminals or potential criminals and that results in more carjackings,” says Houser.

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