A West Side man is accused of taking items from three unlocked cars.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Detective Mike Walsh has some advice for drivers: Lock the vehicle when you leave it.
"The whole idea is target hardening -- to make it hard for thieves," Walsh said Wednesday. "If a thief tries your door handle and it opens, whatever is inside will be gone. If the door doesn't open, he'll move on to the next car."
The auto theft investigator's advice comes after the arrest of Richard A. Gillam, 32, of Bears Den Road. Gillam, charged with resisting arrest and three counts of theft, is accused of taking items from three cars on the South Side on Tuesday evening.
Gillam was arraigned Wednesday in municipal court, where his bond was set at $40,000. He will be back in court Feb. 18 for a pretrial.
Walsh said Gillam has a theft record. The detective said Gillam stole small things from the unlocked cars -- $5, gray winter gloves and a CD player -- but there could have been valuables.
"If you want to be a victim, leave the car unlocked. You might find someone in the back seat," Walsh said. "Lock it up if you want your stuff."
The series of thefts began in the 3500 block of Champlain Avenue around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Patrolmen Joe Moran and Ken Blair learned that a man in a yellow coat was seen sitting in a Mercury Mountaineer and ran through rear yards toward Desoto Street when he spotted the resident. The man in a yellow coat ran with a companion in a blue coat who wasn't seen again.
The Mercury owner told the officers that his wife had left the car in the driveway for a few minutes and had been planning to leave again. A $5 bill was missing from the console.
Backup officers arrived to aid in the search.
About 10 minutes later, Moran and Blair were advised that a man in a yellow and black coat, later identified as Gillam, was breaking into a car in the 3500 block of Wyandot Lane, just a few blocks from the original call. When the officers arrived on Wyandot, several neighbors flagged them down, yelling that the suspect was running north through the woods near Windsor Avenue and Valerie Drive.
The radio dispatcher then told Moran and Blair that a second theft from a car had been reported on Wyandot. Just then, the officers were approached by another resident to report his car had been entered.
The officers went into the woods and began following footprints in the snow. They immediately saw Gillam, in a yellow and black coat, trying to hide under some downed trees.
Gillam ignored commands by Blair to get flat on the ground. Gillam took off running, with Blair and other officers in pursuit.
Moran said in his report that it appeared Gillam was "running out of steam" because he tried to hide again. He eventually stopped but had to be tackled when officers tried to handcuff him, reports show.
Police said Gillam tried to pull his arms away and was verbally abusive.
A CD player was taken from Gillam's coat pocket and $5 was found in a gray winter glove. Two theft victims on Wyandot identified the CD player and winter glove as being theirs; police said the $5 was taken from the car on Champlain.
Moran and Blair noted in their report that they've taken several similar calls in the past few months where the suspect enters only unlocked cars. They added that there have been reports of unlocked cars in the Cornersburg area being hit, noting that Gillam lives close by on Bears Den.