The owner of a 2006 Audi A6 contacted the Westlake Police Department to report that his vehicle was stolen overnight from his driveway. Westlake Police verified the theft and entered the vehicle information into the state and federal crime computers, which automatically activated the LoJack® System concealed in the Audi.
A short while later troopers from Ohio State Highway Patrol picked up the silent LoJack signal from the stolen Audi with the LoJack Police Tracking Computers (PTC) that are installed in patrol vehicles and aircraft. Following the directional and audible cues from the PTC, the troopers tracked the vehicle, which was mobile on a Cleveland interstate. The troopers attempted to conduct a felony stop; however, the suspect accelerated and fled the area. Troopers later tracked the stolen Audi to a residential area in Cleveland. Suspect(s) changed the license plates to avoid law enforcements detection.
Investigators from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Vehicle Theft Unit (VTU) established surveillance and after a while, the stolen Audi was impounded for processing. Information was obtained from witnesses in the area. After obtaining forensic evidence and conducting several interviews, the VTU investigators identified a prolific auto theft ring operating in the Cleveland Metro area. In most cases, the ring members would enter unlocked vehicles in several suburbs to steal property. In the cases where the victim left a key, the suspects took the vehicle. Some of these vehicles were used to commit additional crimes.
Warrants were obtained and all of the suspects were arrested by the Ohio State Highway Patrol for several theft related crimes. While out on bond, the ringleader committed a “carjacking”. The VTU investigators had received the information of the crime and upon following up, the victim identified him as the suspect who stole her vehicle at gun point from an entertainment district on the lower west side of Cleveland.
In total nine members were indicted for over forty-five counts by the grand jury. This included Ohio RICO Act statute, auto theft related crimes, violation of state drug laws, weapons charges, fraud, felony fleeing and eluding, and several others. Because of the thorough investigation, all of the defendants avoided trial, negotiated pleas, and were sentenced accordingly.