AURORA, Ohio -- Several teenagers from Chagrin Falls are accused of going on a pumpkin heist targeting homes in nearby cities including Aurora and Bainbridge Monday night after 9 p.m.
Aurora Police Chief Brian Byard said the teens took at least 26 pumpkins from houses in a development off SR 43 Monday night, but some of the five suspects were caught after a neighbor noticed them and called police.
The teenage driver was taken into custody and his truck impounded.
His four friends who took off running were being identified by investigators Tuesday using their cell phones left inside the vehicle.
“I think we’re a target,” said Dave Dubensky. “This is like the second or third year in a row.”
Homeowners said they’ve tried putting vegetable oil on their pumpkins to make them more difficult to steal but the thieves still squash them.
“It makes me annoyed and upset because we spend all this time getting them ready,” said Alyssa Kropf.
Police believe the teenagers are taking the pumpkins for the annual but unsanctioned pumpkin roll in Chagrin Falls.
Each year, dozens of juniors and seniors hurl hundreds of pumpkins down the steep Main Street hill, and then slip and slide on sleds through the gooey mess; it's a tradition that’s been happening for 30-40 years, according to some estimates.
“When we did it, we bought our own pumpkins, “ said Denise Kajder, a Chagrin Falls mom, who said the tradition is great but stealing is out of the question.
She and others, including the mother of one of the suspects, said the teens need to find a better way of getting the pumpkins.
The mother, who asked not to be identified, told Fox 8 News reporter Suzanne Stratford that she has encouraged her son to volunteer at a farm and warned him not to steal the pumpkins.
Now she and others said they support the teens doing community service and making amends.
Right now they are being charged with theft, but some could face other charges because fake IDs were also recovered from the boy's vehicle.
Chief Byard is asking for all victims to call police so they can make an accurate assessment of the damages.