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Columbus police say 80 cars damaged in string of break-ins

Shattered glass shards are strewn on the asphalt outside of a car.
George Shillcock
Columbus police said 80 cars were damaged in a string of car break-in across the city.

Columbus police are investigating a mass outbreak of car vandalism and theft in the city's western and northern sides.

CPD Sergeant Joseph Albert said in an email that 80 cars were reported damaged overnight in Columbus but only three items were stolen from the vehicles, none of which were firearms. Residents near the border with Hilliard at Arlington Park apartments, Hilliard Place apartments and Millington at Mill Run Condos reported almost four dozen of their car windows were shattered overnight.

Albert said police haven't made any arrests yet and officers are continually patrolling areas they are responsible for in cruisers and in plain clothes.

"We are asking residents to be vigilant of their surroundings and call in any suspicious activity that is going on in their neighborhood and ensure that they are not leaving valuables in sight inside their vehicles," Albert said. "We are also asking anyone that lives in the areas that were affected last night to check any security video they may have to see if they captured footage of any suspects or suspect vehicles"

Arlington Park resident Deborah Hobbs told WOSU about the moment she and her husband heard about the break-in.

"We were watching TV and we heard the car next to us alarm going off so we came running out and two other people were out here and they said they just left in a car and there was 13 cars that were broken into and of course they said ours was one of them," she said.

Hobbs, her husband and many of her neighbors were cleaning up the shattered glass Tuesday. She said nothing was stolen from her vehicle.

Isaiah Speelman swept the glass off the passenger seat and floor of his Hyundai SUV Tuesday at Arlington Park apartments. His passenger side window was busted, but he also said nothing was taken.

Speelman said this is the second time since he moved to Arlington Park that his car was broken into. His passenger side window was smashed about a month ago and he paid $200 to fix it, but on that day his was the only car damaged.

Speelman said he figured it may have been because his car is a Hyundai, a model being targeted along with Kias recently. He bought a steering wheel lock but did not have it on his car Tuesday night.

He said because other cars were broken into he doesn't think the make of his car was the reason for the break-ins.

"I mean it just sounds like there's some people out there that got a little too much time on their hands. I hope they get caught and I hope they get the help that they need because I don't think any person in their right mind would just kind of do this for fun," Speelman said.

He called the break-in annoying but said he should be able to financially and emotionally weather the situation. He said he may reevaluate living at Arlington Park apartments now that this has happened to him twice.

Hilliard Police spokesperson Andrea Litchfield said Hilliard has also experienced a string of car break-ins but to a much lesser degree than Columbus. She said three cars were reported stolen overnight. Two Kias and one Honda.

Her first reaction to hearing 80 cars were broken into just across the street in Columbus from city limits was one of shock.

"That's nothing like we've ever seen in Hilliard," she said.

Litchfield said these are often "crimes of opportunity" and people should take care to lock their doors, remove keys from their car and keep valuables out of sight.

Police are asking anyone with knowledge of the incident to call 614-645-4545 and have an officer come to their residence. Anonymous tips can also be made to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS (8477).

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.