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After Hollywood-style microchip heist, police in two communities work to solve crimes

Police believe thieves target in-demand computer chips
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Posted at 6:38 PM, May 09, 2022

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — It’s like a Hollywood thriller that played out at a Lake County business.

“I’ve been here for a long time, normally it’s — kick in the door, break the glass,” said Det Lt John Begovic, Willoughby Police Department.

According to police, thieves scaled the building of Mentor Electronics armed with cordless power tools. After reaching the rooftop, the crooks cut a hole into the roof, dropped down into the building wearing masks and gloves, and stole more than $100,000 worth of computer products.

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Hole in the roof where thieves dropped down into the computer business and stole microchips.

“It was very coordinated,” said Begovic. “They knew what they were looking for."

Just a few hours earlier on the same day last month, Westlake Police were called to a break-in at a cellular phone warehouse.

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Surveillance image from the burglary in Westlake.

“They are organized and seem to be targeting certain items they are trying to steal,” said Captain Jerry Vogel, Westlake Police Department.

In Westlake, the crooks made off with boxes of cell phones.

“They didn’t just randomly go into a business. It seems they were looking for these particular phones,” added Vogel.

In both Westlake and Willoughby, the businesses are off the beaten path. The thieves cut power to disable surveillance cameras, and police think the crooks could be targeting computer chips that are in high demand.

SLIDESHOW: Thieves strike in Willoughby, Westlake

“It’s early right now but it appears to be going in that direction,” said Begovic.

Police believe these crimes are linked. Investigators traced the vehicles the thieves were in to a Florida rental company.

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Surveillance image of the suspect vehicle in the Westlake break-in.

“It appears they are from Florida, they may be doing this in other states as well,” explained Vogel. The departments are exploring getting help with this investigation from federal agencies.

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to call either Willoughby Police Department at 440-953-4212 or Westlake Police Department at 440-871-3311.

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