GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police are reminding residents to protect their property as authorities report a significant increase in vehicle burglaries and car thefts compared to last year.

From Jan. 1 to April 21, there has been a 25.3% increase in vehicle thefts and a 56.1% increase in burglaries from vehicles compared to the same time last year, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The police department added this year’s numbers are preliminary, but it appears to be a significant increase.

Many other law enforcement agencies across the country are seeing an increase in stolen cars and vehicle burglaries during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The reality is the vast majority of thefts from cars are due to suspects just checking for open doors. Thieves almost always take the path of least resistance,” said Sgt. James Wojczynski, supervisor of the Combined Auto Theft Team.  “Cars that are damaged usually involve cases where valuables are visible inside.”

CATT — a multi-jurisdictional unit that is made up of detectives from the Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming police departments —reminded the community of the following steps to secure their property:

  • Do not leave valuables in your car, especially out in the open.
  • Always lock your car and roll up winds, even if parked in your driveway.
  • Never leave firearms in your car.
  • If you have a push-start car, do not leave your key fob inside the car.

Anyone who has information about stolen vehicles or thefts from vehicles is asked to call CATT at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.