Grand Theft Auto

Recently CWRU and the Cleveland Clinic have reported a number of auto thefts from parking lots and surrounding streets. While the numbers are not at epidemic levels, there is reason for concern that the area is experiencing a run of bad luck or has been targeted by a group of car thieves. So here are some facts and tips about car theft.

Older model cars tend to be more vulnerable. While newer cars aren’t immune from theft, newer security features have made them more difficult targets. The top 10 types of cars stolen are all from 2004 and earlier. Plymouth Voyagers and Dodge Caravans seem to be special favorites. Many Honda products are targeted because of the resale value of parts. Soft top cars like Jeeps can be vulnerable because the tops can be slit to gain entry. Cars with catalytic convertors are vulnerable to having the convertors sawed off for the platinum they contain, which can be sold for scrap. All of the recent thefts have been of cars parked on the street or in open lots, not in garages.

To avoid being a victim of auto theft, always lock your car (simple, but something forgotten in as many as 50 percent of auto theft cases). Do not leave your car running unattended with the keys in the ignition while you let it warm up or run in to pay for gas. Do not store spare car keys or keep the title to your vehicle inside the vehicle itself. Park in well-lit areas when possible.

If you see suspicious activity around a car or in a parking lot call (216)368-3333 and let us know about it. Theft can occur in broad daylight as well as at night. Thieves will often arrive in one car and dump it after stealing a (usually nicer) car—if you see cars that look out of place or appear to have punched ignitions or damage to the steering column please report this. And while experienced thieves can get into cars pretty quickly, if you see someone who appears to be fumbling with a car door or trying to get access to a car by means other than using a key, please call the police right away. Let’s look out for each other.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko & Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. Send feedback to this or other columns at