Oct. 23-Police from nearly a dozen agencies on the Interstate 75 corridor from Centerville to Northern Kentucky are teaming up to investigate a theft ring that has been breaking into cars and entering open garages stealing items.
Springboro police put out a notice on social media warning residents to make sure they are locking the cars and making sure garage doors are closed. Police say the theft group is still active, and operates from early evening to later at night.
Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff said in the past 2 1/2 months, there have been about two dozen incidents involving thefts from cars as well as five cars stolen in the city.
He said more than 30 people have been identified as suspects and a handful of them have already been arrested. None of the arrests have been in Warren County, Kruithoff said. He said the case remains an active investigation and Springboro is working with other agencies in Hamilton, Montgomery, and Butler counties. Boone County, Ky. sheriff's detectives are also involved in the investigation.
Contrary to some social media posts, Kruithoff said there have not any reports of an intruder entering a home, other than an open garage where the resident forgot to close the garage door.
John Davis, public information officer for Centerville police, said detectives have spent the last month looking into similar incidents of people entering open garages and taking things or stealing vehicles. He said they are also working with Springboro and other area departments comparing notes on similar cases.
Davis said in the past two weeks, Centerville had one car stolen where the key was left inside and two cars that have been entered and rummaged through. He said there have been no reports of intruders entering homes in Centerville.
Davis said he isn't blaming victims for these thefts, but that people need to change their behaviors to avoid becoming a victim.
Both Davis and Kruithoff said people need to close their garage doors, make sure they don't leave keys and key fobs in their vehicles and take out valuables, electronic devices, guns, etc., from their vehicles at night, and lock their vehicles.
"It's incredible the number of unlocked cars you find," Kruithoff said.
A social media post allegedly claiming that the thieves were violent and were entering people's homes also evoked fear in some residents. Kruithoff said the city's dispatch center had received several dozen calls about that post.
Messages seeking confirmation and comment on the social media post, which was widely attributed to Warren County Probate/Juvenile Judge Joseph Kirby, were not returned by his office.
Other nearby police agencies are also on the alert and working to find the alleged thieves.
Miamisburg police are aware of the rash of vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles in communities along I-75, but so far, the incidents have not affected the city, according to Sgt. Jeff Muncy.
"We are talking with other departments in an effort to hopefully prevent that from occurring in this area," Muncy said.
Middletown police Chief David Birk said his department is aware of the rash of thefts and said the thieves were reportedly in Madison Twp. on Thursday night. "We're having officers and detectives work different shifts and hitting different areas in the city hoping we might get lucky," Birk said.
Warren County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Hounshell confirmed the theft of a few vehicles and items that have been taken from parked vehicles in several areas of the county. He had no other information to release noting that it remains an active investigation.
Springboro police are encouraging residents to call the police at 937-748-0611 if they see a suspicious vehicle or person in their neighborhood, and asked people not to speculate on social media.
Staff Writer Eric Schwartzberg contributed to this report.