Police have identified a trio of individuals suspected in a rash of thefts in Ottawa Hills, Sylvania Township, and Toledo. According to Ottawa Hills Chief of Police John Wenzlick, the crew was identified in July, and are likely responsible for more than a dozen thefts in the Village alone this summer.
The thefts occurred from unlocked vehicles parked in private driveways or unlocked garages overnight.
"It is important people realize they are going driveway to driveway," Chief Wenzlick said. "They go along a roadway checking door handles of every car to see what they come across. It only takes a matter of minutes."
The thieves would help themselves to loose change and electronics, and any other valuables that are easy to convert to cash, according to Wenzlick. He encouraged residents to lock their cars at night and keep valuables out of sight.
He also advocated the use of motion activated lights or leaving certain outdoor lights on overnight, and encouraged residents to report anything suspicious, as it happens.
"Call us. If it is a barking dog late at night, or your motion lights come on unexpectedly, call us. We are happy to come out and check," Wenzlick said. "There was one time, several years ago, when there was a burglary in Plat III. We went door-to-door talking to the neighbors the next day, and several of them said 'yeah, we saw a suspicious truck during that time, but we didn't want to bother you, so we didn't call.'"
"That is what we are here for," Wenzlick said. "It is not a bother. It only takes us a few minutes to get there. Peace of mind is only a phone call away."
New technology has made home surveillance systems easy to install. One recent victim was able to provide video footage of the thieves, which provided the police with vital details about the crooks.
"A lot of our past thefts have been one person coming through on one, maybe two nights," Wenzlick said. "This video showed it was three of them, and they were much more organized. We learned about what time the thefts were occurring, how they were getting here, and that they were getting around on bikes."
"Their faces were covered, and we could see they were wearing gloves, but it did help us determine when the thefts were occurring so we could direct our saturation patrol efforts."
New technology is great, but Chief Wenzlick said some old tech can be just as helpful.
"People need to register their bicycles with us," Wenzlick said. "It is a free service, and that green and silver (sticker) is reflective and very visible at night."
Wenzlick said not only does it make it easy for the OHPD to log stolen bikes in the national crime computer, but if a bike is found in a neighboring jurisdiction it is much more likely to be returned to its rightful owner.
"It is not uncommon that when they steal a bike, they use it as a mode of transport for the night then ditch it somewhere else," he said. "The registration sticker would help other department get the bike back to you."