Better composites link GR thefts to crimes elsewhere

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new computer composite sketch program and police work has revealed that the duo stealing from senior citizens in Grand Rapids may have been doing the same thing around the state and even across the Midwest.

There are no reports of anyone being injured, but one of the victims lost thousands of dollars in minutes.

That man, who 24 Hour News 8 is not identifying at the of request of police to protect his safety, said that the two men showed up at his front door within the last two weeks. It was just before noon.

“That’s why I let them in, because it was during the day,” he explained.

He described the men as polite and said they were they were posing as maintenance workers who quickly pushed their way inside.

“The one gentleman, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘We are going to fix your chimney for nothing,’ and the other guy snuck in I didn’t see him,” the victim said.

Once inside, one of the men distracted the victim by asking him to turn on the faucet.

“I couldn’t figure out why,” he said.

The victim now believes it was to drown out the sound of the other man going through his bedroom and robbing him.

“It makes me sick,” he added.

Thanks to a new software upgrade, the Grand Rapids Police Department was able to work with the victim to create sketches of the crooks.

“The detective took the sketches back to the victim and the victim said, ‘Yes, these are good resemblance of the suspects that we are looking for,'” said Julie Snyder with GRPD Forensics Unit.

The new program has thousands of features that can be pieced together to create a very accurate picture. There are hundreds of foreheads, jaw-lines, eyes and noses available to choose from, along with different ethnicities and skin tones.

“So instead of saying a white male with lighter hair, lighter skin tone, this gives you a better idea,” Snyder said.

Of course, the accuracy of the description depends on the victim’s memory, But the program allows the anyone at GRPD to produce a sketch and get it out to the public within hours.

Thanks to the composite sketches, police have been able to confirm two people believed to be the same men committed the same crime in Kalamazoo and the St Joseph area, and possibly Wisconsin. Police across the affected regions have copies of the sketches so they can keep an eye out for the thieves.

“I’d like to see them hung, is what I’d like to see,” the victim said of the men who stole from him.

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