COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A company that provides transportation to some community members who need it most has been hit by car thieves.
Columbus police recently released video and screenshots from in-car cameras of two car thefts that took place in July. Investigators hope it will help them identify the suspects, who are juveniles, according to police. Both vehicles are owned by Tristar Transportation.
“They’re students trying to get back and forth to school. People that have special needs. It is our most vulnerable population these two particular auto thefts impacted,” said Alex Behnen, commander of Columbus police’s property crimes bureau.
Tristar Transportation drives seniors, students and disabled community members, according to its website.
“It has been a very frustrating and unfortunate situation with our stolen vehicles,” Lauren Payne, president and chief operating officer of Tristar, said in an email. “Luckily we’ve been able to retrieve them all back thanks to our in-vehicle GPS and AI video technology.”
Behnen said Hyundais and Kias make up about half of all the cars stolen in the city this year. Last year, they made up for 41% of the total car thefts. He said it’s “incredibly common” for children to be involved in these types of crimes.
“They’re children committing criminal acts that are having significant impact on the community, the individuals who own the property, and themselves and their future,” he said.
“In previous interviews I’ve said I’ve been disgusted by it,” he continued. “I still feel that way, but there’s also a sense of sadness. Because those children, those juveniles, their lives — whether they recognize or not — are forever impacted by these actions.”
Behnen said there were 11,020 car thefts in Columbus in 2022, and the city is on pace for a similar total this year.