One charged in Butler County vehicle break-ins that come as wider investigation is underway

There are 11 municipal police departments in Butler County.

Butler County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating vehicle break-ins in opposite sides of the county overnight Thursday during a time when police throughout the Interstate 75 corridor from Montgomery County to Northern Kentucky are teaming up to investigate a theft ring whose actions include breaking into cars and entering open garages to steal items.

In Butler County, a 17-year-old boy was cited for incidents that occurred in Liberty Twp. early in the morning then again later at night.

Deputies were called about 5:30 a.m. to the 5300 block of Woodview Way on a report of a young male walking down the street pulling on car door handles to see if they were open. Witnesses saw the suspect, but he had disappeared into a wooded area when deputies arrived and couldn’t be located.

At about 9:35 p.m., deputies were called to the 5300 block of Colorado River Trial for a trespassing report. A resident showed deputies a video of a male attempting to get in the residence, then leaving when he couldn’t do so, according to the sheriff’s office report. The suspect matched the description of the person pulling on door handles that morning.

With the use of K-9 Copper and a drone thermal camera, officials located the suspect near the intersection of Kyles Station Road and Aspen Trails Boulevard. A search turned up a laptop computer, a paper notebook and women’s clothing the teen said he had taken from three vehicles. The boy was cited for criminal trespass and theft, both misdemeanors, and released to his mother.

At about 2:25 a.m., deputies were called to Weatherwood Drive in Madison Twp. on a report of two people going house to house and looking in vehicles. The caller said the suspects, including one who was wearing a mask, attempted to get into their house and ran toward Mosiman Road. Deputies were unable to locate the suspects.

Officials have not said that the Butler County incidents are tied to the string of thefts and break-ins throughout southwest Ohio that are being investigated by multiple police agencies, but that investigation is growing in intensity.

Springboro police put out a notice on social media warning residents to make sure they are locking the cars and making sure garage doors are closed. Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff said in the past 2 1/2 months, there have been about two or dozen incidents involving thefts from cars and five stolen cars.

He said more than 30 people have been identified as suspects, and some have already been arrested. None of the arrests have been in Warren County, Kruithoff said. He said the case remains an active investigation and Springboro is working with other agencies in Hamilton, Montgomery, and Butler counties. Boone County, Ky. sheriff’s detectives are also involved in the investigation.

Police said people need to close their garage doors, make sure they don’t leave keys and key fobs in their vehicles and take out valuables, electronic devices, guns and other valuables from their vehicles at night. They should also always lock their vehicles, police said.

“It’s incredible the number of unlocked cars you find,” Kruithoff said.

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