COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Car thieves have set their sights on the area surrounding Ohio State University.
Columbus police received almost a dozen reports of stolen cars from Friday to Monday in these areas; there were also several break-in attempts.
Those incidents happened near residences along Indianola Avenue stretching from Lane Avenue to East 12th Avenue.
Hunter Schuttler is a victim of a car break-in and said the numbers are getting out of control.
He and his roommate Collin Foody live on Indianola Avenue. Around 4 a.m. Sunday, they say they arrived home from work to a shock.
“We pulled up to our house and someone was going through my roommate’s truck,” Foody said.
Schuttler said the man was inside his truck wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweatpants with red stripes.
“We approach the guy, he starts yelling at us and we just start to get into an altercation with him,” Schuttler said. “He starts to take off and we call the police.”
They said they tried to follow the man down the street to keep him in sight, but the man came back around the corner holding what looked like a gun. They said they ran back to their house, called the police again, told the operator what they saw, then waited.
“It’s definitely unsettling and concerning that we live so close to OSU,” Foody said.
About 45 minutes later, the police responded. Schuttler and Foody said their neighbors also had items stolen from their car that night.
The men said that around 5 a.m., after the police left, they saw the car thief again, this time in their back alley.
“This is just out of control,” Schuttler said. “We’ve heard a lot of people just break in, peoples’ cars being stolen. I’d heard about it, I just didn’t think it would be this frequent.”
These two were not the only victims in the area.
This weekend, eight cars were stolen from residences between Lane Avenue and East 12th Avenue. Three other people reported car break-ins and two people reported home burglary attempts.
Columbus Police Sgt. Joe Albert said the high numbers are probably due to the volume of people making it an easy target for thieves.
“There’s more cars probably parked in the area on a Friday or Saturday night in the campus area, so there is more opportunity for them to find vehicles that are probably unlocked,” Albert said. “And a lot of times, we just see people walking down the street checking door handles.”
Albert said the city is no stranger to crime. Given the sheer volume of calls, he urges people to do their best to get a description of the thief.
“If we are not getting there fast enough, give us as good of a description as you can to the individual,” he said. “Because like I said these suspects are just leaving that car and just going down the street and finding another one.”
CPD said it does have a joint patrol with the university, the top priority of which is to keep residents in the area safe.
Police said they are constantly looking at crime data for the area and if they feel numbers are getting higher, they will add more patrols in the area.
Columbus Police urge people to lock their cars because oftentimes, thieves are just walking the streets looking for an easy target. They also said officers try to respond to the scene of the crime as fast as possible, but if you can get a description of the thief before officers arrive, that will help the investigation.