GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Car theft is on the rise across West Michigan, including in Grand Rapids where the city is reporting a 180% increase since 2018.
Grand Rapids Police Department reported just over 280 stolen motor vehicles in 2018, which police say wasn't an unusual yearly number.
Fast forward to 2020, and the city received more than 800 reports of stolen vehicles.
"Unfortunately, car theft has always been a thing," said Sgt. Dan Adams of Grand Rapids Police Department. "2018 had just under 300, but we've seen roughly a 180% increase since then and we're on pace in 2021 to even beat last year."
GRPD says this is more than stolen property because most of the time, the stolen vehicles are connected to other crimes.
Thieves often steal cars and use them to commit other violent crimes, like armed robberies, cell phone store smash-and-grabs, shootings and homicides.
"hey don't just stay local. They can be used for a number of things, transporting firearms transporting narcotics, a lot of other illegal activity," said Sgt. Adams. "Livingston County Sheriff's Office recovered one of our sole vehicles is driven by a 14 year old male, that's another one of the issues, a lot of these are kids. They're their youngsters, they don't even have a driver's license."
GRPD says the public is making it too easy thieves to steal the cars and it could be prevented.
"It's not any longer a crime of opportunity, it's not just, I started my car in the driveway to warm it up and someone happened to be coming by," said Sgt. Adams. "We're now seeing it where it's targeting of dealerships, it's targeting of convenience stores and other places where people just run in for a minute and leave their car running or leave their keys in their car."