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Independence Police see decline in car thefts, attribute collaborative work and more boots on the ground

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jan 29, 2023

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — The continuous slew of Hyundai and Kia thefts may be coming to an end in some parts of Northeast Ohio.

“We looked at 2020, 2021, and 2022, over that time frame, and we saw a decrease in 2022,” said Independence Police Department Chief Robert Butler.

Butler said Independence has seen a 10% decrease in car thefts and hopes the trend continues throughout 2023.

“We work collaboratively to speak on different incidents, speak on suspicious behavior, and we work together to help one another bring these people to justice and protecting our citizens and property,” Butler added.

IDP’s collaborative efforts contributed to two arrests Saturday. Fairview Park Police noticed stolen Kia plates which then launched a pursuit on Interstate 480. That pursuit ended in a crash as police said the Kia crossed four lanes of traffic, clipping a charter bus carrying Baldwin Wallace students.

No one was injured and North Olmsted Police also assisted.

RELATED: Stolen Kia crashes into bus with Baldwin Wallace swim team during pursuit, police say

“Kias and Hyundai's are so difficult because they’re able to break into them so easily and steal them so easily,” said North Olmsted Police Department patrolman Chris Kelley.

Butler attributes steering wheel locks given to the department from Hyundai and Kia manufacturers have helped jump-start the decline of thefts across Independence. Additionally, roadway FLOC cameras and increased patrol have made a difference.

“We have added officers to the road, our shifts have increased in size in 2022 compared to 2020 and 2021,” Butler said. “More boots on the ground.”

The viral instructional videos on social media that provoked car thefts nationwide have led police to arrest a mix of both teens and adults over the year. Fairview Park police said a 15- and 16-year-old were arrested as a result of the stolen Kia pursuit Saturday.

“A lot of juveniles are involved in these thefts,” said Kelley. “Our hope is that as these things occur, the juvenile system is able to take steps to hopefully prevent some of these juveniles from continuing to do these acts.”

Police remind residents to stay vigilant.

“Lock your cars, keep it in a well-lit area, to keep their cars in a garage if possible and to be aware, if they see something suspicious, to call us,” Butler said.

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