Homeowner ‘surprised’ by theft suspect’s backyard arrest

Allegan County

GANGES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — John Kelly opened the door to his home along Blue Star Highway near Glenn Tuesday morning only to find a police officer telling him to shut it.

“Nothing ever happens down here. That’s why I was so surprised,” he said.

Authorities were looking for four suspects wanted for a break-in just before 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Sprint store on Douglas Avenue in Holland Township.

They led police on a chase that ended up on I-196.

When speeds reached 100 miles an hour, Ottawa County deputies backed off and ended the chase. But they kept an eye on the suspects’ vehicle.

The four suspects described as being in their late teens, eventually ditched their stolen Illinois vehicle along I-196 near 114th Avenue and escaped into the woods near Blue Star Highway and Glenn — a small Allegan County community located between South Haven and Saugatuck.

Deputies and officers from several agencies joined in the search and caught one suspect in Kelly’s backyard.

“I heard them yelling at him to get down. He was a tall guy with a running suit on,” said Kelly.

The other three were picked up moments later in the same area.

One had broken into a home on Blue Star Highway, ran past the homeowner without saying a word and tried hiding in a bedroom. But authorities were right on his tail.

Authorities say a small number of electronic items and cash were stolen during the break-in. Some of that was recovered from the suspects once they were arrested, police say.

All four suspects are from Illinois and in their late teens, according to investigators.

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Capt. John Wolffis says security measures tend to vary from store to store. That’s one possible reason the burglars traveled from Illinois to Holland.

It’s the second time in a week the Holland Township store was hit with a smash and grab burglary. The suspects from last week’s case are believed to be out of the Grand Rapids area.

Police are comparing notes with Ottawa County investigators to determine if a cellphone store break-in Tuesday in Grandville is connected to the Holland Township case.

“We’ve done a lot to educate our businesses. We’ve increased our patrols,” said Wolffis. “But the reality is, it takes a very short time to get in and get out.”

While the phones cost customers hundreds of dollars, stolen phones are pretty much worthless to anyone who purchases them.

“They could sell them to other people, but they can’t activate it or use it,” explained Ariel Sosa, an employee at the Holland Township store.

That’s why buyers need to beware.

“If an unsuspecting person purchases a stolen phone on a social media site or at some kind of meet spot and they think they’re getting a really good deal, the reality is they’re going to try to activate it and it’s not going to activate,” added Wolffis.

Deputies say they are working with other agencies to determine if these suspects were involved with other similar cases in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.

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