SEVEN HILLS, Ohio — In the wee hours of Election Day last month, a Cleveland man and his cohorts broke into the Seven Hills Service Department’s Broadview Road garage and made off with three vehicles and various equipment.
Falling far short of an “Ocean’s Eleven” heist, the job hit a snag when a keen-eyed Richfield police officer noticed a Seven Hills Service Department pickup truck with a trailer being driven through the Summit County community.
“What happened is the driver of that vehicle said he worked for the Seven Hills Service Department,” Seven Hills Police Lt. Daniel Kappus said. “Richfield called over to verify that information with us. Our officer contacted a member of our service department, who said that person does not work for the city of Seven Hills. We relayed that information to Richfield.”
While Richfield police arrested Cleveland resident Jeremy Allen Payne, Seven Hills police discovered the service garage gate open with a broken chain nearby. They also found idling in the yard a Ford pickup truck, which came back as stolen out of Cleveland.
“We believe several people were involved, because there were three service vehicles taken,” Kappus said. “Also missing was a trailer, commercial lawnmower, two leaf blowers, circular saw and keys for other vehicles.”
This is where the story goes high-tech. Earlier this summer, Seven Hills spent $9,800 for the purchase of 23 vehicle tracking devices to be installed on service department vehicles.
A search for the missing vehicles revealed that they were located at two different Cleveland locations. The pickup trucks were recovered.
While the other service vehicle was recovered with a commercial lawnmower on a trailer in Richfield, still missing is a backpack leaf blower, hand-held leaf blower, circular saw and keys.
“Kudos to Richfield police for having the idea to call over here and verifying the employment without letting the suspect go,” Kappus said.
“This case is definitely a first of its kind since I’ve worked here, because of multiple vehicles being stolen with a drop vehicle left at the scene.”
Payne, who was injured when he resisted arrest in Richfield, was charged by Seven Hills police with theft and receiving stolen property, as well as breaking and entering.
Kappus said the case remains open.
“As of right now, we haven’t charged anybody else or issued any warrants,” Kappus said. “We’re still looking into it.”
Seven Hills Mayor Anthony D. Biasiotta commended the police officers from both communities, as well as Seven Hills Director of Public Service and Properties Jack Johnson for having the foresight to install the vehicle GPS units, as well as service garage security cameras.
“These security measures proactively put in place were instrumental in quickly recovering our stolen property,” Biasiotta said.
“We’re currently reviewing our security measures, including the ones already in place by Director Johnson that helped in the recovery of our equipment.”
Read more news from the Parma Sun Post.