HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) — Josh Wilson, of Howland, always locks his car.
“It’s always just been common sense,” he said.
But others on Fairhill Drive and on surrounding streets learned that lesson the hard way.
Howland police say there have been more than a dozen reported thefts from vehicles of various items including purses, wallets, four guns and three vehicles in about a week.
“We’ve had multiple thefts from unsecured vehicles here in the township,” said Howland Police Detective Jeff Edmundson.
Investigators got a break in the case Tuesday when Edmundson said a man, now identified as Andrew Bowles, was caught on surveillance camera using a stolen credit card and driving off in a stolen vehicle. That vehicle was found in Warren.
With help from other law enforcement agencies and the Adult Parole Authority, law enforcement was able to enter an apartment on Woodland Avenue in the city.
“Multiple pieces of property that had been stolen from vehicles here in Howland and Weathersfield were located inside of the house and the suspect that was seen on video at Gabe’s in Niles using the stolen credit card was found hiding in the upstairs attic,” said Edmundson.
Both Bowles and the apartment’s renter, Douglas Cole, were taken into custody.
Bowles is being held in the Trumbull County Jail on a parole hold plus charges of receiving stolen property and misuse of credit cards, while Cole is in the Mahoning County Jail for a parole violation.
“We believe there are others involved, and we’re still looking for other pieces of property and vehicles to turn up,” said Edmundson.
The investigation is still ongoing, but detectives say the best deterrent is to keep valuables out of sight and your vehicle doors locked.
“Nine times out of 10 these guys just walk up, pull the door. If it’s locked, they walk away. If there’s nothing visible in the car that they can see, they’re not gonna smash the window out,” said Edmundson.