According to Cleveland Police, more than 3,000 cars have been reported stolen in Cleveland since the start of the year, a 13% increase since this time last year.
The victims of these crimes are often left without many answers. Alicia Kirkland found herself just another number in that statistic.
Earlier this month, her beloved 2003 Ford Escape started smoking while driving to work. She works on the east side but lives on the west side of the city, so her car needs to be in tip-top shape.
“I pull into this little mom and pop repair shop,” she said. “He [the owner] told me I had an issue with my radiator and I asked him if this is something he could fix, he said ‘absolutely.’”
The shop she took it to was Quality Car Care on Euclid Avenue. Kirkland said she was shocked when the owner called her on Nov. 4.
“The next day he calls me and he tells me someone went to his auto repair shop, kicked in the door, took my keys and took my car,” she said.
According to the Cleveland Police report, the owner told police he left the shop around 9:00 p.m. on November 3, when he got back the next day the garage door was kicked in and Kirkland’s keys and car were gone.
“I don’t know why someone would target a 2003 Ford Escape,” said Kirkland. “That was the only car they took on the lot.”
Michael Polensek, Cleveland’s Public Safety Chair, said 2022 is a bad year for car theft, not just in Cleveland, but throughout Cuyahoga County.
He said there’s also not enough manpower to truly give victims the answers they need.
“Last time I looked, there was only one officer working auto theft,” he said. “Don’t forget, we’re down 326 officers, so they’ve had to prioritize where you put people.”
Polensek said people need to beware, and for the most part, this is a crime of opportunity.
“Lock your car, pay attention, see something, say something, if you see people patrolling your neighborhood with flashlights, late at night tugging on car doors, call police,” he said.
Polensek also noted that, oftentimes, victims don’t have complete coverage, just limited liability, which is what Kirkland had because of her car’s age.
“Financially this drains you, looking for another car, having to come up with this money on the spot. It’s a holiday season, can’t get around,” she said.
She said the auto shop’s owner has not yet responded to her request for his insurance information. He did not respond to News 5’s several phone calls and messages.
“I trusted them to take care of my car. I have never had something like this happen to me,” said Kirkland.
She’s still hopeful her car will be found but said it has been a difficult ride.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, but I’m not really sure where to go from here,” she said.
The Cleveland Police Department is currently investigating the breaking and entering at Quality Car Care. If you know anything about the burglary or where Kirkland’s red, 2003 Ford Escape with license plate number JHM6705, call Cleveland Police.
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