GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Cars are becoming a favorite target of thieves, and now police across Kent County are warning residents to secure their vehicles.
Grand Rapids Police, the Kent County Sheriff's Office, and the Kent County Chiefs of Police Association issued a joint statement Friday, saying car thefts in the county has increased dramatically.
According to investigators, 19 vehicles have been stolen in Kent County in the last 7 days.
“These are crimes of opportunity,” said GRPD Sergeant Jim Wojczynski, supervisor of the multi-jurisdictional Combined Auto Theft Team. “These thieves are looking for unlocked vehicles and those left running. It might be just a few minutes, but that is plenty of time for criminals to strike. Making a habit of locking your car and taking your keys is a very effective way for everyone to help prevent auto theft.”
Along with stealing these vehicles, police say criminals are using the cars to commit other crimes. According to Grand Rapids Police Department Deputy Chief Scott Rifenberg the thieves will drive recklessly at high speeds to avoid arrest.
During Operation: Safe Neighborhood, Grand Rapids Police recovered 2 stolen vehicles. 4 people were arrested for auto-theft.
READ: 19 arrested during Safe Neighborhood operation
“GRPD officers try to avoid high-speed chases because they put other drivers, pedestrians, and neighborhoods at risk,” said Rifenberg. “By using the Michigan State Police helicopter during that operation, we were able to spot and recover stolen vehicles without the risk of high-speed car chases. But that’s a resource for very specific operations, so we really need the community’s help to stop these thefts before they start. Please lock your car and take your keys. Stopping auto theft by keeping vehicles secure helps keep everyone safe.”
Anyone with information on a stolen car out of Grand Rapids can contact investigators at (616) 456-3380. Tips can also be made anonymously through Silent Observer.