According to a recent report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Dayton ranks second in Ohio for auto thefts. In 2015, 1,748 cars were stolen in Dayton, a rate of just over 218 cars per 100,000 people. Cleveland led the state with 5,300 auto thefts last year, or a rate of slightly more than 257 cars per 100,000 people. The vehicle most frequently stolen in Ohio is the 2003 Dodge Caravan.
Auto thefts increased in the Dayton area from the previous year, and state officials have indicated that the drug epidemic in the area is at least partially to blame. An uptick in auto thefts on the west side of Dayton at the beginning of 2016 led police to form partnerships with gas stations to use a “bait” car to catch thieves and to issue warnings to people who leave their vehicles running and unattended. The police department in Dayton said that the majority of auto thefts in recent years have taken place on the city’s west side and that a significant number of thefts occurred when vehicles were left running at gas stations.
How to Prevent Auto Theft
Because 45 percent of automobiles stolen are never recovered, it is important to take preventative steps to protect your vehicle. Measures you can take to prevent vehicle theft include:
- Lock all windows and doors when you park
- Do not leave your keys in the car
- Park in well-lit areas or garages, if possible
- Avoid leaving valuable items in plain sight
- Do not leave your car running while unattended
Auto Thefts Laws in Ohio
Theft occurs when someone intentionally or purposefully deprives another person of their property by knowingly obtaining or exerting control of the property without the owner’s consent. Theft of a motor vehicle is considered grand theft under the general theft statute in Ohio. Grand theft is a fourth degree felony and punishable by a minimum of six months and a maximum of three years of incarceration and up to a $5,000 fine. If a weapon is involved, the crime becomes an aggravated theft, which involves more serious penalties.
Ohio law has a separate offense for the unauthorized use of a vehicle, which is more commonly referred to as “joyriding.” Someone commits this offense if he or she knowingly uses or operates a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or person authorized to give consent. Typically, this crime is a first degree misdemeanor unless the vehicle is either removed from the state or is possessed for longer than 48 hours, in which case it is a fifth degree felony. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, while a fifth degree felony is punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison.
If the theft of a vehicle is accomplished by use of force or threats of violence (also known as “carjacking”), it can be prosecuted under Ohio’s general robbery statute. Ohio law also allows for enhanced penalties if the victim of an auto theft is an elderly person or disabled adult.
How an Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one is facing auto theft charges, you need a skilled Ohio criminal defense attorney by your side. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our attorneys have extensive experience defending individuals against theft charges and we understand that every client’s situation is unique. We pride ourselves on providing sophisticated and professional legal representation with the goal of obtaining the most favorable outcomes for our clients.
Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation to learn more about our criminal defense services.