NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (July 7, 2022) – Police are trying to figure out why a 36-year old Akron man stole four vehicles in Dover and New Philadelphia Thursday morning – one right after another – before finally turning himself into police just across the Tuscarawas border into Stark County.
Police say three of the vehicles he stole were vehicles from work sites that either had the keys inside or were running.
Grand theft auto spree
The man stole the first vehicle – a Mitsubishi Eclipse – from a Dover residence on West Iron Avenue some time before 8 a.m.
The next vehicle stolen a couple of minutes later was an asphalt company’s Chevy Colorado from behind Domino’s in Dover.
The suspect abandoned that one and stole a work truck in the 400 block of 6th Street NW in New Philadelphia.
New Philadelphia Police Chief Mike Goodwin says he dumped that one at Rural King and stole a Penske truck making a delivery at Walmart.
Bolivar chief in the right place at the right time
Bolivar Police Chief Randy Haugh says he just happened to see that truck traveling north on 77 as he listened to reports of the thefts on the police scanner.
He followed the vehicle to the Pilot Travel Center at the Faircrest exit.
“Oddly enough, I was sitting across the street at the McDonald’s watching the Penske truck, and the gentleman literally walked up to my cruiser to turn himself in,” Haugh said. “At no point did I activate my lights and siren. At no point did I pursue the vehicle. I just saw a vehicle matching the description and wanted to get a registration for New Phila.”
Haugh said the man was distraught but cooperated.
“It was so nice that there was no pursuit. You didn’t put anybody in harms’ way… The gentleman literally walked to my cruiser across a couple lanes of traffic just because he was done.
“He said, ‘I’m just done. I’m done running. I screwed up.’ It was crazy. That’s the first in my career of 20-plus years.”
New Philadelphia police picked him up in Bolivar and brought him back to the city.
Police seek explanation for ‘strange’ behavior
Goodwin says it appears the man began the grand theft auto spree after leaving Union Hospital. They were interviewing him Thursday afternoon trying to figure out his motivation.
“I’m not sure why he would take one and only drive a few blocks and dump it and take another one,” Goodwin said. “Maybe he was headed to Akron. I would think that you would just get on the highway and drive that way instead of just continuing to steal these vehicles.”
Goodwin says as he searched for the stolen vehicles, he noticed many others parked near work sites. He saw that as a reminder to take your keys out of your vehicle.
“I thought to myself, ‘probably most of these have their keys sitting on the front seat or in the ignition, and that someone like this individual could just jump in and drive away and nobody would know it,’” he said.
He says police returned the vehicles to their owners.
“We’re just still trying to gather some facts … and see if we can clear up some of these questions that are just kind of strange.”