Thieves smashing in car windows at Metro Parks

Posted at 4:55 PM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 16:55:38-04

Susan Greathouse was about to begin a hike with her husband at scenic O'Neil Woods Metro Park in Bath Township when she heard a loud bang from the parking lot and then saw a man breaking into a minivan. 

"He had the bubble wrap wrapped around his right arm and he was taking his elbow and he broke in the driver's side window of the vehicle," Greathouse told News 5.

Photographs show the damage and the shattered glass. 

A woman's purse containing credit cards and a driver's license was snatched.

Greathouse said the thief came from one car, while others served as lookouts in a second vehicle.

"It's a shame that people can't go to the park and not be a victim of a crime," said Bath Township police chief Mike McNeely.

McNeely said several smash and grab crimes have recently been reported at Metro Parks, consistent with what a park ranger told Greathouse.

"The day that this happened there had been six others within an hour's time," Greathouse said.

Greathouse calls the crimes senseless and says people out enjoying nature shouldn't have to deal with this. 

She hopes security will be stepped up at Metro Parks.

"I'd say they're working as a group, as a team and they're picking these parks randomly," she said.

McNeely believes rangers do have suspects and progress is being made in the investigation. There were a total of two smash and grabs at two different Summit Metro Parks last week. 

"My understanding is that several of the purses from the thefts have been recovered in a location in northern Summit County by the park rangers," said McNeely.

Regardless of when the crooks are captured, the advice from police remains the same.

"We always recommend if you're going to the park, store your valuables in the trunk out of site and thieves are more likely to leave you alone," McNeely said.

A Metro Parks spokesperson said similar crimes have been committed at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland Metro Parks and a dog park operated by the City of Akron.