GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Surveillance cameras captured burglars smashing a minivan through a southeast Grand Rapids party store early Tuesday morning, stealing $10,000 worth of vape pens.
Parminder Multani, the owner of Miti-Mini Superette on Giddings Avenue Southeast, told News 8 he has been the victim of multiple break-ins in his seven years of business. But this crime is the worst yet, he said.
“This is extreme,” Multani said.
Around 5 a.m., Multani’s video cameras captured multiple young men ramming a Honda Odyssey through his front door. They didn’t get in on their first try, so they repeatedly backed the vehicle into the store until they finally broke through.
The vehicle bent the whole door open, smashed the windows and caused a slushie machine to spill liquid all over the floor. The suspects also took a bolt cutter and sawed through another door as well, Multani said.
“They just smashed it in there,” Multani said.
The suspects wore face and head coverings as they rushed into the store. Multani believes they were young men, possibly teenagers.
“Bad parenting,” Multani said. “Bad upbringing and broken families. These are the three causes. They are not raising their kids properly.”
Surveillance footage shows the suspects ransacking the register and stealing an estimated $10,000 worth of Breeze vape pens. Cameras also captured one of the suspect’s faces up close before they all took off.
The whole robbery was over in just minutes. ADT, a security company, called Multani as the break-in took place.
“I was so mad,” he recalled. “When you get a call from the security in the late night or in the morning, you just get goosebumps that something bad happened to me. Then you have to go through everything after that. That’s totally stressful and a mess.”
Multani is still picking up the pieces and hasn’t fully calculated how much it will cost to fix the store.
“I’m still looking,” he said. “I still don’t know how much the door and window is gonna cost me because even the frame is messed up.”
Despite all the damage, Multani says it could’ve been even worse.
“Luckily, they didn’t break into the gas line,” he said. “That’d be more damage, fire, everything. They came close.”
Multani is not the only one victim. That night, another shop on East Fulton Street and Arthur Avenue was broken into and robbed of vape products. Law enforcement in Kent County has seen a rise in vape store break-ins this summer. A few years ago, Multani said someone broke in and threw a brick at the glass covering the register.
He said Miti-Mini Superette is a family store with “good customers.”
“Love them,” he said. “They love me. It’s like family to me.”
Kids often come by to buy candy and slushies. But because of the break-in, the slushie machine is now in storage until it’s fixed.
“There was a slushie machine for the kids,” Multani said. “(Now) every time come in they go, ‘Where’s the slushie machine now?’”
He only has three employees at the store because of worker shortages.
“I work very hard,” Multani said. “It’s like a 24-hour job, seven days. I haven’t had a day off in the last three years. Can you imagine? I work every day.”
Multani also worries he’s going to lose customers because of the break-in.
“They think it’s a dangerous place,” he said. “You lose business.”
He also fears this won’t be the last time, saying he’s “really scared” for what’s next.
“It’s gonna happen again,” he predicted. “100% it’s gonna happen, no doubt. I cannot stop it, you know? Unless I stand outside with my own gun all night and work during the day, 12 hours. This is the only way.”
“Whatever I do, I know I cannot stop them,” Multani said. “Even the police cannot stop them. Only the legal system can stop them.”
A spokesperson for the Grand Rapids Police Department said this is a “very active investigation.” News 8 saw an officer combing through surveillance footage at the store Thursday morning.
Multani said he’s hopeful police will catch the people responsible.