CLEVELAND – Cleveland police are investigating after a rash of car thefts from the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport rental car facility.
Since July, thieves have stolen or tried to steal dozens of vehicles on at least eight separate dates.
Around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, investigators said a 15-year-old Cleveland boy led troopers on a high-speed chase in a stolen 2019 Ford Mustang on Interstate 480 eastbound.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Rob Gable said Cleveland police asked OSHP for assistance in the chase, which reached speeds of more than 130 mph before the stolen car exited at Broadway Avenue and officers ended the pursuit.
Gable said the rental car company that owns the Mustang tracked it by GPS and troopers arrested the suspect after the car stopped on Meadowvale Avenue in Cleveland. He ran from the car, but was caught, according to Gable. He said GPS was essential to finding the car.
“It’s like a needle in a haystack to try to find a vehicle in Cleveland or the suburbs of Cleveland without something like GPS, so certainly that allowed us to be able to find the vehicle once it stopped and actually apprehend the person who had been driving it,” Gable said.
Hours later, around 4:30 a.m., Cleveland police were called to the rental car facility by a security guard who reported seeing two stolen vehicles driving over stop spikes, which punctured their tires before exiting.
Police later found the vehicles, a Hyundai Sonata owned by Avis and a Lincoln MKZ owned by Hertz, abandoned nearby.
According to police reports, since July 7, multiple rental car companies have reported cars stolen from the lot or the attempted thefts of vehicles. Cars at the facility can be an easy target because keys are left in some.
In some cases, suspects abandoned damaged cars that they couldn’t drive past barricades and ran from the area. According to incident reports, surveillance footage and witness statements indicated the suspects appeared to be groups of girls and boys in their teens or early 20s.
Managers with several affected rental car companies declined to comment.
FOX 8 News did not hear back from a Cleveland police spokesperson about what, if any, measures are being taken to try to stop the crime spree. A spokesperson for Cleveland Hopkins said airport leaders were not available for comment Tuesday, but said the airport was cooperating with police.