$5K reward in Stanton car dealer tire theft case


STANTON, Mich. (WOOD) — Last weekend, a Stanton Chevrolet dealer came upon an unwelcome surprise on his lot.

One of his brand new trucks was sitting on wooden blocks after its tires were stolen.

“I look down the row and I see a truck just cocked sideways and I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,'” Brandon Stowell, owner of Bookwalter Chevrolet in Stanton, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “Seriously! Of all places, you’ve got to come up here and do that.”

Stowell isn’t alone in his frustration.

Harold Zeigler Ford near Lowell had a similar incident earlier this month. In that case, wheels were removed from four vehicles but the theft was foiled after someone saw what was happening and called 911. The Kent County Sheriff’s Department came upon the crooks in the act but they ran away as deputies approached, leaving the wheels behind.

The Betten Baker Chrysler dealership in Lowell was hit, too. In that case, the dealership reported damages totaling some $10,000.

Stowell said the loss costs dealers and those costs are ultimately passed down to consumers. He said he has insurance that would cover the damages, but doesn’t plan to file a claim because of a high deductible and the potential rate increase that would likely follow.

“A lot of the times we just end up eating it out of the pocket,” Stowell said. “We just pay for it out of pocket and cover it.”

The incidents prompted Stowell to fight back. He’s offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest in the theft at his dealership.

“We’ve got to do something,” he said. “I put in a lot of work to keep this place nice and keep things going and something like that happens — yeah – it affects you personally, big time.”

Michigan State Police, who are investigating the incident at Bookwalter, said no arrests have been made in the case.

Stowell was in the process of getting security cameras installed before the theft happened. He has now put a rush on them.

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