CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati police said Tuesday that they are seeking a woman suspected of using her towing equipment to steal or attempt to steal seven different vehicles and filing a false police report to conceal her involvement in the crimes.
Patricia O’Neal, the 35-year-old owner of Who Dey’s Towing in Camp Washington, is a suspect in seven different cases of theft or attempted theft of trailers around the Tri-State. The most recent took place at a construction site in Hyde Park near Fairfax.
Officers said they believe O’Neil broke into the site and hitched her pickup truck to a trailer weighing more than five tons. When she tried to drive away, her truck broke down, according to police, and she was forced to invent a cover story.
“It’s just stupid,” said Calen Emid, who manages a Taco Bell near the site of the attempted theft. “There’s cameras everywhere. There’s businesses everywhere.”
And there was a police station across the street.
Surveillance video from that station captured a white pickup circling Emid’s Taco Bell and then vanishing. Minutes later, the video shows a woman walking across the street. Investigators believe it was O’Neal — they traced the temporary license plate on the truck back to her.
“She had went to District Five Cincinnati police and made an auto theft report for her truck, saying it was stolen,” said Det. Michael Winstead.
But an affidavit obtained from the Hamilton County Municipal Court shows that police believe her report was false. According to Winstead, she reported that her truck had been stolen Aug. 4 despite security footage showing her in the truck the following day.
The affidavit goes on to state that O’Neal has avoided Winstead’s requests for an interview and hung up on him during an Aug. 29 phone call about the incident.
This is also not the first time O'Neil has attracted police attention: In June, officers discovered a stolen trailer belonging to another country in the lot of her business.
"Patricia O'Neal tried to minimize her involvement by saying she had nothing to do with everyday operations and was unaware that the trailer on the property was stolen," the affidavit filed for this incident reads. "(The trailer) had been painted white in an attempt to hide that it was stolen."
WCPO stopped by the site of O’Neal’s business, Who Dey’s Towing, and found the office closed. Its voicemail box was also full.
Police are asking for the public’s help tracking O’Neal down. If you believe you have information about this case, call Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.