FRANKLIN, Ohio - Police in Franklin, Middletown and numerous other Southern Ohio communities are asking for the public's help in tracking down daring criminals who have committed a string of robberies of car batteries at Walmarts.
"I think we have a group of thieves that are going around stealing batteries from local stores after-hours," said Franklin Police Chief Russ Whitman.
Dozens of batteries have been taken from at least a half-dozen Walmart facilities in the past several weeks.
"We have information that there's been thefts in Englewood, Xenia, Kettering, Middletown, Deerfield Township -- along with Franklin," said Chief Whitman.
The Franklin Walmart was hit on April 20 by a pair of thieves who took 90 new and 30 used batteries worth $1,000 from a locked, fenced-in area adjacent to the Tire and Lube Center.
Middletown's Walmart was robbed of 60 new batteries last weekend. Police said the same method was used -- two men with a rental truck and a hand-truck to move skids holding the batteries. The loss is estimated at $3,000.
Chief Whitman said he believes the thieves are selling the new batteries to other individuals and recycling the lead from the used ones. It's estimated that people can get $10 for a used battery.
The various police agencies are working the cases independently right now, but information sharing is likely to become the rule, not the exception, in the coming days, weeks and months.
"Time is on our side," said Chief Whitman. "Eventually, we will network with other agencies to figure out who it is and put them behind bars."
Anyone with information on these cases should call the Franklin Police Department, Middletown Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (513) 352-3040.