CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Deputies arrested five people, including three 13-year-olds, after chasing two stolen cars near Grand Rapids early Monday.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy tried to pull over the first vehicle, a Dodge Caravan, around 2:40 a.m. on 28th Street SE near Hotel Avenue in Cascade Township because it didn’t have any taillights. The minivan pulled into a parking lot but didn’t stop, instead leading the deputy on a slow-speed chase.
“We are going 20 miles an hour,” the deputy can be heard reporting over his radio in a dashboard camera video released by the sheriff’s department Monday.
The video shows two people jumping out of the van, which continued to roll forward, and getting into a waiting Ford Fusion.
The Fusion took off, too, headed west on 28th. The deputy started chasing but ultimately gave it up because of the way the suspect was driving.
Deputies say the Caravan had been stolen in Wyoming overnight and the Fusion in Gaines Township the night before.
Around half an hour after the initial chase, a Wyoming police officer spotted the Fusion in the area of 44th Street and S. Division Avenue. Deputies soon arrived and tried to pull the car over at Division and 60th Street, but they say the driver took off. The Fusion then crashed along Eastern Avenue at 32nd Street.
“They just hit a curb here,” a pursuing deputy reported, the video shows. “Foot bailing. Get his K-9; get his K-9 started. Stay with (the) driver. Stay with the driver.”
The people inside the Fusion got out and ran away. Deputies gave chase and caught the driver.
They put a drone up in the area and called in Grand Rapids police, including a dog. A drone video released by the sheriff’s office shows a dog leading officers to one hiding suspect and the drone directing them to another who was hiding behind a garage.
In all, five people were arrested: a 16-year-old boy from Wyoming; three 13-year-old boys, two from Wyoming and one from Grand Rapids; and an 18-year-old man from Grand Rapids.
“That’s a huge concern for us. Not even old enough to have a driver’s license or to start driver’s training, for that matter. But this isn’t new to us. Over the past two years, I would say, the sheriff’s office has seen a significant increase in stolen cars … and also thefts from motor vehicles,” sheriff’s department Sgt. Eric Brunner said.
Kent County deputies have been involved in several chases amid a spate of stolen cars this year, many of the cases involving teens. In May, deputies arrested six teens linked to stolen guns and cars after a stolen Jeep was spotted at a Wyoming hotel. In July, a stolen SUV speeding away from a deputy caused a rollover crash on the East Beltline; of the five suspects identified, four were juveniles.
“Oftentimes, many, many of our suspects are between the age of 13 and 19 years old. And we’ve seen that again and again. Many — I can’t speak to the suspects in this particular case — but many suspects in our stolen vehicle complaints tend to be the same ones that are repeat offenders,” Brunner said.
He said while police agencies are doing all they can, friends, family and neighbors also have a responsibility.
“Communities keep communities safe,” Brunner said. “We don’t want to go and arrest 13-year-olds. That shouldn’t be happening at that age. We don’t want that for our community. But these crimes are more than just stolen vehicles. They’re being used in business burglaries, shootings, homicides and very dangerous criminal behavior.”
Earlier this month, the sheriff’s department reminded drivers to lock their cars and guns.
“If you are carrying your firearm in your car, you need to remove it,” Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt told News 8 at the time. “Typically, juveniles are involved with these crimes. They don’t often have driver’s licenses, therefore whenever they’re driving, they’re a danger to the community. But add to that, the layer of a stolen firearm now in their possession, and it becomes that much more dangerous.”
— News 8’s Anna Skog contributed to this report.