SARANAC, Mich. (WOOD) — A break-in this week in Ionia County has a bizarre twist – the thieves made off with a furnace and central air-conditioning unit.
Vicky Wagner grew up in the little ranch house in rural Ionia County near Saranac. She moved in 1972 after their home in downtown Ionia burned down.
“Mom and dad decided to move us to the country because they thought it’d be safer,” Wagner said while looking at pictures of her mom and dad smiling with their kids. “They raised five kids in that home. It was mom’s dream house.”
The parents moved into a nursing home in 2014 and the house remained primarily unoccupied since, although it was kept up and checked on frequently.
“It’s a long love story between mom and dad,” Wagner said.
Wagner’s father died in 2016 and her mother passed away in February.
“Honestly, I haven’t even had time to put away the funeral pictures yet,” Wagner said.
On Wednesday, the kids heard from a neighbor near their parents’ home that the front door was wide open. Her brother, Gary, and husband, John, went to check on the house.
They found the door had been kicked in and discovered the furnace in the basement was stolen. The furnace was still under warranty. The central air conditioning unit that was outside was also gone. The burglars appear to have backed up a truck to the home’s back door.
“My dad and Gary picked out the furnace in the basement and it’s like one less piece of dad,” Wagner said.
For nearly five years, the house was empty with no problems, until the obituary was posted in February. Wagner believes the thieves saw the obituary and targeted the house.
“I think that is just such a callous, hurtful thing because people are going through the grieving process,” she said. “I felt hurt for my mom and dad all over again.”
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Sheriff Charlie Noll said that while house break-ins do occur, it’s usually a crime of opportunity with thieves grabbing whatever they can carry. Noll says having a furnace stolen is a new one.
Wagner has a message for the thieves:
“Please don’t do this to anybody else, nobody deserves this kind of hurt, it’s not a victimless crime,” she said.
The items stolen were an Amana furnace model AMH950703BXAG Serial no. 1311379187 and Amana central air unit model RCB24B2A Serial no. 9912136106.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office at 616.527.5737 or Silent Observer at 616.527.0107.