GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are seeking an 18-year-old accused of participating in a string of burglaries.
Nehemiah Chilton is connected to more than 30 burglaries at dispensaries and liquor stores around Grand Rapids, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department.
The burglaries allegedly started in early July. One was as recent as this week, police said.
GRPD said it has tied Chilton to nine different stolen cars in its jurisdiction. Chilton allegedly used these cars during the burglaries.
According to GRPD, there is also evidence linking Chilton to other break-ins around Kent County and beyond, including in the area of Portage and Kalamazoo. Among the businesses that were hit was Noxx Cannabis on Plainfield Avenue near Leonard Street, whose windows remain boarded up. Bottleneck’s Party Store at the intersection of Fuller Avenue and Aberdeen was also burglarized.
“They’ll drive a stolen car to a store, they’ll use crowbars, anything they can to break a window but we have seen on more than one occasion, them actually using a vehicle to break either a door or a window to make entry,” said Chief Eric Winstrom, Grand Rapids Police Department.
He said the burglaries have been going on since July and are as quick as 90 seconds, and the items thieves have taken may be used for money.
“What they’ve been stealing is cash registers, cannabis products, alcohol products, tobacco products,” Winstrom said. “It’s the sort of things you can steal and turn a profit on very quickly.”
He added that smash-and-grab burglaries have spiked in recent years and are putting a serious strain on businesses.
“You’re talking about employees who don’t get to come to work the next day or several days because the businesses have to be shut (down), tens of thousands of dollars of product stolen, hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to these stores.
Winstrom said this highlights the need to bring the suspects to justice.
“Identifying the individuals, getting them off the street, is something that is very important to the city of Grand Rapids,” Winstrom said.
Police said three people allegedly working with Chilton have already been arrested and face charges.
Anyone with information is asked to contact GRPD at 616.456.3380 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.