Chagrin Falls — Two more cars were stolen in the village last week, bringing the total number of vehicle thefts to nine since March, Det. Andy Capwill said Monday.
Both of the latest thefts occurred during the early morning hours of Aug. 17. Each was parked unlocked in the owner’s driveway and with the keys inside.
A late model Audi was reported missing from an American Street residence by its female owner who told officers there was cash, credit cards, two purses and other valuables inside.
It was found parked and unoccupied in front of a Cleveland apartment building, police said, and nothing had been taken but the car with house keys missing.
It was returned by officials to its owner otherwise undamaged. She later told police that she had new car keys made and a locksmith had changed her door locks of the house.
Det. Capwill said he had processed the vehicle and lifted fingerprints. He is waiting to hear from county officials if the prints match those of anyone in the criminal data base.
The second vehicle was taken from the driveway of a Bentleyville Road home. The female owner had left her later model Jeep unlocked with the keys inside.
It is the one car out of nine vehicles stolen from Chagrin Falls, that has not been located, the detective said. All except the Audi had been returned with minor dents. One vehicle featured a bullet hole.
Also on Aug. 17, in addition to the two stolen cars, a South Street resident reported his vehicle had been entered and contents rummaged through.
A checkbook along with house and car keys were taken. New house locks were installed and an extra key was reprogrammed.
Although there has been no evidence linking the incidents to a chop shop, Det. Capwill said investigators believe the missing cars could be the work of one or more theft rings which use these vehicles in the commission of other crimes.
He did not, however, rule out random joy riders or lone wolf copycats from possible suspects. “They work fast going from car to car trying doors until they find one that is unlocked,” he added.
Chagrin Falls in not alone in the latest scourge of vehicle thefts, Det. Capwill said. “I have been communicating with other police departments and it is all over this part of the state. It’s the same story, people continue to leave their cars unlocked with the keys and valuables inside.”
The police department has spread the word about the rash of car thefts and urged residents to lock them up and remove all valuables but it has not yet sunk in.
“We think nothing happens here but it does,” Det. Capwill said of Chagrin Falls. “People tell me they have lived in Chagrin for years and never had to lock their homes or cars. This is not then. It’s 2020 and things are much different.”