WHITEHALL, Ohio — Officers with the Whitehall Division of Police arrested two dozen people, recovered a stolen car and found two missing juveniles during a crime blitz on Thursday.
The goal of the blitz was to focus on shoplifters. Twelve of the 24 arrests were theft arrests, according to police.
While shoplifting may seem like a small crime, it can lead to bigger arrests.
"In the last one, we had a guy steal a pack of socks and he had a homicide warrant," a Whitehall sergeant said. “We are getting a lot of felonies associated with people stealing."
About 20 minutes into the theft blitz, officers spotted a car driving erratically and tried to get it to stop. The 17-year-old suspect rammed into the police cruisers trying to get away, but could not. Officers found a gun inside the stolen vehicle and the teenager was arrested.
Sergeant Jonathan Earl said Whitehall works to stop these types of suspects before they hurt someone.
“That's our main goal, is to keep the citizens safe. That's why we attempt to stop these vehicles from fleeing. If we get into a car chase, or they flee from the police, Lord knows they are going to be running red lights at high speeds and putting citizens in danger,” Earl said.
Officers stopped another vehicle a short time later and found another gun.
“It was a traffic stop that we had known, might have been involved in narcotics possibly. Just through searching the vehicle, recovered a small amount of drugs and another firearm,” Earl said.
Even though the focus of Thursday's blitz was on theft, there's a bigger impact on other crimes.
“Theft is one of the big crimes we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis in the city. When you are going after the theft crimes, you are also going after other crimes that are occurring, such as the burglaries and robberies and stuff like that,” Earl said.