Theft ring suspects released

YOUNGSTOWN – Investigators said on Tuesday they were releasing five individuals suspected of being involved in a theft ring across northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Instead, investigators said they planned this week to seek indictments in the case from a Mahoning County grand jury.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Ronald Schneider said investigators had planned to file charges against the suspects on Tuesday. However, after consulting with the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, they decided to pursue the indictments.

The four adults and one juvenile had been held at the Mahoning County Jail for more than 24 hours before authorities announced plans to let them go without releasing their names or charging them yet.

The grand jury meets Thursdays. Police can only hold suspects for 48 hours without charging them.

It was not clear on Tuesday whether the indictments are being sought against the original five people arrested or others.

Schneider said investigators believe there may be more people involved in a crime spree that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items stolen from businesses.

“We’ve been interviewing several people,” he said. “We believe there may be a lot more to this. “We’ve been chasing down some leads and looking at the information we’ve gathered.”

Initially the five people, including a 17-year-old, were accused of participating in thefts stretching from Trumbull and Mahoning counties to Cleveland and western Pennsylvania.

The five people were taken into custody just after 7 a.m. Monday when authorities surrounded a home at 412 W. LaClede Ave., which is on the South Side of Youngstown. The arrests came after an ongoing investigation dating back about a year, authorities said.

Along with OSP, which is leading the investigating, the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, Boardman, Hubbard Township and Youngstown police agencies assisted at the scene and participated in the investigation, along with other law enforcement agencies.

Schneider said investigators recovered more than 100 stolen items including vehicles, lawn mowers, lawn care and landscaping equipment, trailers and tools. Investigators believe burglaries in Cuyahoga, Stark, Trumbull and Mahoning counties in Ohio and several in western Pennsylvania are all connected. They said more than $200,000 worth of equipment was stolen from a landscaping business in Olmsted Falls.

Over the past several months local businesses have reported having equipment stolen; however, it was not clear which of those incidents may or may not be related.