CHAGRIN FALLS — While pumpkin thefts are common this time of year here, police Chief Amber Dacek said recent thefts involving lawn equipment and bicycles are not a normal occurrence in the village.
As of last week, Chief Dacek said there were reports of 14 incidents involving a string of thefts, starting in mid-September.
“The main thing for people to be aware of is that the target is detached garages and sheds,” Chief Dacek said. “And primarily ones that are left unlocked. First and foremost, people need to be aware that [the thefts are] occurring and lock their stuff.”
She warned that this should be especially the case for attached garages, saying that while the targets are detached garages and sheds now, that does not mean the thefts won’t move to attached garages.
She added that so far there have not been any connected incidents of people breaking into homes, but there has been one connected vehicle break-in where the lock was punched.
Some of the most recent incidents include four from the week of Oct. 14, including the theft of a socket set, three bikes, two leaf blowers, a pressure washer and a push lawn mower, according to Chagrin Falls police reports. In all cases that week, the items were taken from unlocked structures.
Earlier reports from mid-September to early October included homeowners reporting missing chainsaws, hedge trimmers, drills and bits and potentially surveillance cameras.
Other residents have even come forward with reports of missing equipment from back in May or June, suspecting the incidents were related.
Chief Dacek said the incidents have primarily happened on the south side of the village, including South, South Main, South Franklin and Hall streets.
Neighboring village police departments in South Russell and Bentleyville have not yet received related reports.
While the incidents are mostly on the south side of Chagrin Falls, Chief Dacek warns residents not to assume their neighborhood in a different part of town is exempt from thefts. With any crime, she said, people should be aware of their surroundings.
“If you’ve had 14 incidents in a short period of time, there’s something going on,” she said. “So, people should take that seriously. Don’t assume, ‘Well, that was them. It’s not going to happen to me.’”
She said there is nothing to indicate any motive for the thefts as of yet, noting that most thefts are based on opportunity. She advised people to lock their doors, cars, garages and any structure of property.
“People should be doing that regardless, whether this was occurring or not,” Chief Dacek said.
Chief Dacek also said residents should call the police if they suspect something, even if it turns out to be nothing.
“Chagrin overall is a very safe community. It always has been, but things can happen anywhere,” she said. “If you see something unusual, it’s better to say something and have it be nothing than to not say anything.”
In regard to surveillance, she said she couldn’t speak to whether it is more common for village residences, but she noted that technology has become more affordable, making surveillance easier.
Chief Dacek said the thefts are being probed with “multiple people working on this investigation.”