Stretching from Bowling Green to Columbus, a string of vehicle break-ins plagues local residents and stirs frustration as police are no closer to finding assailants.
Over 60 vehicles in Bowling Green were ransacked March 19 and 21 after windows were broken to gain access inside. According to a release from the Bowling Green Police Department, they received reports of break-ins around the 1400 block of Clough St. and the 100 block of State St.
Following these incidents, nearby Rossford residents endured over 30 similar vehicle break-ins, and just south of the Ohio State University campus in Columbus over 40 cars were broken into.
Despite the lapse of time, police have made little progress finding who these vandals were.
“It’s definitely similar, but there’s really no way for us to know unless we are able to compare evidence with them,” said Police Chief Tony Hetrick, referring to other police divisions involved in the investigation. “They might have a few leads; we have a few pieces of evidence but nothing to compare it to. We have a video of a silver, four-door vehicle and two people, but they’re so difficult to tell. We’ve been trying to figure out what type of vehicle it is, but it’s not really good enough to show what make or model the vehicle is.”
For the incidents in all three cities, Hetrick said the method was the same: shattered window, rifled vehicle, stolen change but usually nothing of value.
Following the March 19 break-ins, BGPD increased manpower for patrol and surveillance for the next evening and the rest of the week. Two nights later an officer was 10 minutes behind the suspects who entered an apartment complex and hit more cars, but Hetrick said they could not identify a plate and these cases are difficult to solve without a witness or an officer catching them in the act.
“We made over 55 police reports of our own,” Hetrick said. “We reached out to each victim. As soon as we would locate a vehicle, we would check the plate, find out who it would belong to and contact them. Some people obviously were gone for break, but we made police reports on every single car that was broken into.”
The break-ins occurred during the BGSU’s spring break, making it more difficult for students who were away to attend to their damaged vehicles.
“I was on a trip in North Carolina,” student Mikaela Baker said. “BGPD called me pretty early in the morning and said, ‘Hey, your car has the back-left driver side window broken out.’ And they went through my center console and stuff, but I didn’t have anything important in there. So they had busted out the window and moved some stuff around, but they didn’t take anything.”
Baker said she had to seal off her window before ultimately getting it replaced, but her neighbors were unable to fix their broken car windows as quickly due to the cost and time it would take to do so.
“For a lot of people, it was really frustrating,” Baker said. “There was a girl across the street who her window had been broken out as well, and a lot of people were in a position where they couldn’t get it fixed right away, and I was lucky I was able to. So I think it was more than just an inconvenience for a lot of people.”
Other students had more than physical damage done, with items stolen, time spent fixing their cars and stress from the break-in taking a toll on them.
“The overall cost to fix the window wasn’t bad since I have insurance,” student Emily Meredith, who also had her car broken into, said. “But whoever broke into my car ended up taking a wallet with gift cards and cash, but I am not sure the exact amount stolen. This whole situation was kind of annoying for me, and something I did not expect. I am a student teacher, so I had to miss the entire day of teaching just to fix my car that day, which was a hassle. Overall, this whole experience was a complete inconvenience and an unkind thing to do to people.”
Meredith said the cost of damages made to her car was approximately $400.