'Car Creepers' Auto Theft Ring Indicted By County After Yearlong Investigation

Eight men—most of them 19 years old—were charged on 224 criminal counts

As the region continues to deal with record levels of car thefts, which have doubled from 2022 to 2023, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office yesterday announced charges against an eight-man crew that stole dozens of cars and brought violence along with their crime spree over a year and a half.

TyJier Riley, Dadren Carter, Jaylon Hicks, Jordan Hicks, Deon Young, Josh Ziegler, Joshua Taylor and Michal Gadomski were indicted on 224 criminal counts for stealing 33 cars and 52 credit cards, assaulting and harassing 83 victims, four attempted murders, all across 25 cities in the five-county region. Three-fourths of the defendants are 19 years old.

“The individuals indicted today have wreaked havoc and inflicted violence across Northeast Ohio,” Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement. “Crime does not stop at any one border, and this indictment is a direct result of the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of multiple different law enforcement agencies.”

Ryan Bokoch, a prosecutor in the County's Crime Strategies Unit, told Scene that the string of thefts differed a tad from Kia Boyz-style ones, in which thieves—sometimes kids as young as 12—use modified USB drives to hotwire vehicles.

The Car Creepers, a nickname given to the defendants by detectives, mostly waded through wealthy suburbs, from Beachwood to Lyndhurst and Macedonia, scouting for keys or credit cards left in owners' GMC Denalis or Volkswagen Atlases. Often cars were nabbed late at night, with only Ring cameras to witness.

Sometimes the thefts turned violent. On July 8th, Riley and Carter drove in a stolen car to Beachwood and held up two victims in their forties by gunpoint in their driveway. They stole the vehicle. In one incident on March 8th, Riley, Carter and Young shot-up a car in South Euclid carrying a teenager's one-year-old daughter.

Bokoch said he looks forward to a wide range of impact from the eventual grand jury hearing.

"Number one, we're looking at justice for those 83 victims," he said. "Number two, people need to make sure they lock their vehicles—even in affluent neighborhoods. And number three, well, there are penalties out there for stealing cars."

The eight defendants will head to their arraignment hearing Thursday, October 6 at 8:30 a.m. at the Justice Center downtown.

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Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea is a staff writer at Scene. For the past seven years, he's covered Cleveland as a freelance journalist, and has contributed to TIME, NPR, the Pacific Standard and the Cleveland Magazine. He's the winner of two Press Club awards.
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