MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Alex Goreta says he was awakened about 2:55 a.m. on May 4 when an alarm went off, alerting him of a break-in at the Southern Select Auto Dealership where he is a salesman.
“There was multiple people that walked from behind from over next door, walked behind the lot, found an object, a hub bearing of a vehicle, threw it through the windows,” Goreta said.
He watched in real-time while as many as eight people searched for keys to vehicles on the lot. He was on the phone describing what he was witnessing to a Medina County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher.
His co-worker, Alex Bojadzic, was awakened by the same alert on his phone.
“I pulled up the main driveway camera and saw the vehicles being started. I saw the tail lights of it and then called the sheriff right away,” said Bojadzic. “I called the sheriff right away. While I had the camera, I was talking with the sheriff, our vehicle’s being stolen heading west on Route 8.”
A short time later, a Montville Township police officer saw the stolen truck go past him in a tandem that included a silver Audi and a Hummer.
He pursued the tandem onto Route 71 north, where he passed the Hummer and attempted to pull over the stolen truck.
The officer’s dash camera video then shows the driver of the Audi, with no tag on it, drifting into the officer’s lane at speeds near 100 miles per hour, in an apparent attempt to block the officer and increase the space between him and the stolen truck.
As the pursuit approached Strongsville, the Audi could be seen braking in front of the officer, still at high speeds, and changing lanes as the officer made an effort to get around him.
“He (the officer) knows there’s more of them than him, so he’s trying to radio ahead to see if we can get the state patrol, the sheriffs office, Brunswick or Strongsville either in a position to stop or to help stop the vehicle — whether it be with spikes or by other means,” said Montville Twp. Police Chief Matthew Neil.
Neil believes the occupants of the Audi had been in communication with the occupants of the stolen truck, which had gained so much distance, the officers could no longer see it.
As the pursuit entered Cuyahoga County, additional officers from Strongsville joined the pursuit.
The driver of the Audi accellerated well over 100 miles an hour in an apparent attempt to catch up with the truck
“At this point the officer does a fantastic job evaluating risk and it’s not worth damaging our car, potentially putting the officer and the occupants of that Audi in danger by getting in some sort of accident at those speeds,” said Neil.
“You are trying to run us off the road or interfere with us, the damage, the injuries that can happen can be devastating, life threatening or fatal and we don’t want to see that,” he added.
The Audi may have been one that was stolen from an Akron car dealership on April 17.
FOX 8 has obtained security video from a similar break-in at a Canton dealership on May 7.
Aside from the fact that the suspected stolen Audi was traveling in tandem with the stolen pickup, Goreta believes there is additional evidence to show that at least four recent thefts from area dealerships are related.
“From all of the images that we have, it’s the same people doing it. One of the guys has the same hoodie on, a black hoodie that says VCU on the back in white letters,” said Goreta.
In the May 4 pursuit, the thieves managed to elude all of the officers.
The thefts are currently being investigated by multiple agencies.
Montville Township is not among them. Their officer was simply aware of the thefts and initiated the May 4 pursuit.
But based on what his officer experienced, Neil hopes the thieves are caught soon.
“If they are willing to do this to a police car, what are they willing to do to anybody else that gets in their way? Whether you are trying to get to them or not, you are simply in their way,” Neil said.