Upper Arlington News

Thefts prompt UA police to issue crime alert

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Upper Arlington police issued a crime alert last week and asked residents to take precautions after a series of thefts from vehicles throughout the city.

From Nov. 2-17, the Upper Arlington Police Division received 36 reports of thefts from vehicles and garages.

Items reported stolen ranged from electronic devices, such as tablet computers and global-positioning systems, to credit cards, book bags, cash and personal documents.

In many of the cases, police officials said, thieves helped themselves to property left in unlocked garages or vehicles parked outdoors overnight.

In others, they apparently saw items in locked vehicles and broke windows to gain entry.

"We've been responding to or receiving reports of many vehicles being broken into," officer Heather Galli said. "We really want to stress that anything that even remotely appears to have value needs to be stored out of sight or removed from the vehicle."

The department issued the crime alert Nov. 20.

In addition to removing items from unattended vehicles, the alert advised residents to park in well-lit areas and avoid leaving keys in unattended vehicles.

Galli said the thefts have occurred throughout the city.

She said it appears thieves are sweeping one or two streets in given neighborhoods during overnight hours.

"You can see they're kind of clusters of activity," Galli said. "On specific nights, there are specific roadways that have been hit.

"We don't know of any particular area that's not at risk. Everyone should be aware."

In addition to taking precautions to secure property, Galli said residents should report suspicious activity to the police department's non-emergency line at 614-459-2800 so patrol officers can be dispatched to monitor the area.

If residents see a crime in progress, they should call 911, Galli said.

"Absolutely we are on heightened alert and awareness for this particular type of activity," she said.

The city took steps about a year ago to make penalties for offenses related to property theft and damage among the toughest in central Ohio.

Under legislation enacted Nov. 26, 2012, city officials implemented a mandatory three-day jail sentence for anyone with a prior theft conviction who commits a criminal trespassing offense.

In addition, penalties for criminal-damaging convictions were increased from a maximum fine of $750 and 90 days in jail to a $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

Likewise, criminal-mischief offenses now are punishable by jail sentences of up to 90 days and fines of up to $750. Previously, the maximum penalties for criminal mischief convictions were 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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