Residents on Grand Rapids’ Westside call string of break-ins “out of control”

Posted at 10:53 PM, Aug 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-25 22:53:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – According to the Grand Rapids Police Department, as of Aug. 25 since this January, there have been 162 break-ins on the Westside; that’s six percent lower compared to this time last year, but many residents told FOX 17 they are seeing a rise in break-ins in their neighborhood.

Joe Bristol lives near Bristol Avenue NW and Patton Avenue NW and called the latest string of burglaries “out of control.” Bristol caught a man trespassing on his property Monday morning face-to-face.

“Enough’s enough, I’ve had it,” said Bristol.

It was about 5 A.M. Monday morning when Bristol said he was sitting in his chair in the garage like any other morning, until a branch snapped outside the window.

“He stepped on that, that’s what got my attention,” said Bristol. “He was right here looking at me. My chair is literally right there. So we were pretty close. I got a good look at him.”

Bristol said a he saw a man in his late teens or early twenties standing outside of his garage peering in through a closed window. He described the man as six-feet-tall, having a thin build, with short stringy blonde hair.

Bristol went inside and called police after the man ran off, but when he came back outside he saw another person, who he said could have been the same man, near his garage about 10 minutes later.

“How many more? Who else? What do they want? What’s going to happen? What are they going to do?” asked Bristol. “I’ve got three kids that live here, all under the age of nine, and my mother’s in her sixties that lives here; I can’t have that. It’s just that simple.”

Now Bristol is taking action. He and his wife are members of the group, We are Westsiders; it is similar to a Neighborhood Watch group on Facebook.

According to We are Westsiders members, break-ins are a frequent thing in the neighborhood. Steve Mikulak posted that he thinks thieves went through his jeep Monday morning on Parkhust and Hillmount street. Then Jill Louise posted that her and her neighbor’s car were broken into as well, also on Hillmount Street.

Neighbors on Bristol’s block told FOX 17 that normally they have nothing to worry about; but Heather Roberts said other residents reported suspicious activity near her home.

“(A neighbor’s) grandson had told her that someone was across the street from our house, up on this hill, with binoculars looking into our windows,” said Roberts. “(She said) this is a really tight-knit community, and that we all look out for each other and she just wanted to let me know, which really concerned us.”

For now Bristol said he and his family are keeping the police and neighborhood informed.

“If I saw him again, I’d tell him flat out: I saw ya, you saw me, if I see ya again, I’m going to get you,” said Bristol. “And everybody else around here knows about you too.”