CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – In the early morning darkness, Canfield Police chased an SUV up Route 224 into Boardman. Officers would learn later the late-model Chevy Blazer had just been stolen from a home on Dartmouth Drive the latest in a growing string of auto-related crimes in the area – all involving unlocked cars.

“People are going through the vehicles, taking items,” says Canfield police Officer Aaron Young. “The vehicles that are being stolen. They’re also being found to be unlocked and the keys being left in the vehicle.”

The chase raced through neighborhoods. At one point, the Blazer hit a utility pole near Wildwood Boulevard and Market Street before making a U-turn in a front yard.

The occupants eventually bailed out and ran off, and the SUV was recovered.

This is the third stolen car in Canfield the last several weeks, with many more having items stolen from them.

Over the last several weeks, police have been watching for signs thieves have been getting into cars in the neighborhoods. This includes interior lights still on at 3 or 4 in the morning — an indication the doors of that car may have recently been opened.

An officer has spotted one such car on Kings Lane and called for backup. It was then that second officer spotted the Blazer speeding through the neighborhood.

“[The officer] initiated a traffic stop with the vehicle,” says Young. “The vehicle then sped off.”

To prevent future thefts, police say their advice is simple.

“You’ve got to protect yourself by locking your vehicle, taking your keys with you,” says Young.