GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rash of auto dealership break-ins continued in metro Grand Rapids Monday night, frustrating both dealers and police.
At least three stolen vehicles, two BMWs and an Infiniti were found abandoned outside a commercial business and an alleyway off of Evergreen Street SE east of Eastern Avenue SE Tuesday morning.
More 28th Street dealerships may have been targeted.
Scott Hoek, relationship manager at Infiniti of Grand Rapids says burglars broke into the dealership sometime after closing Monday.
“Three individuals, we were able to see them on the camera with masks, broke through the front of our building, smashed through the glass,” Hoek said. “And instead of putting up the garage door to drive it out, they literally drove through the garage door.”
They got the keys to one lease return in the lot and a new vehicle inside the dealership.
“Building damage, waste of time. It’s just not a whole lot of fun,” Hoek said.
Vehicles were also taken from Berger Cheverolet and Toyota of Grand Rapids. The Toyota dealership was broken into last night and over the weekend.
With large inventories on their lots, most dealers have to go through inventory lists to figure out what was taken.
Monday night’s break-ins followed at least six from over the weekend in Plainfield Township, Grand Rapids and Kentwood. One suspect is in custody.
Kentwood police told News 8 on Monday the suspect was found with keys to a vehicle taken from a dealership in their city.
Dealers say the breaks ins are nothing new. They deal with them from time time. But not this many in a short time span.
Keys to the stolen vehicles are sometimes easy to get to.
Most dealership keep them in locked cabinets. But thieves can bust those cabinets open. And sometimes, keys get left out.
“Ìf keys are left on somebody’s desk at the end of the day, they’re taking the keys, hitting the button and finding the right vehicle and drving away with it,” Hoek said.
Some dealerships are figuring out ways to take keys off site at night. Others are adding additional security.
Similar crimes have happened around the country.
Police say there’s not much to the thieves’ plans like selling the vehicles or stripping them for their parts. They just drive them around to commit other crimes and dump them.
“It’s terribly frustrating. We were shut down for three and a half weeks. We’re just trying to get back on our feet. And now you’ve got a bunch of kids making their way with a bunch of our equipment, which is not good,” Hoek said.
Both dealerships and police are hoping that public awareness leads to stopping these crimes.
If you see anything out of the ordinary after hours at a dealership, you should contact police.
Detectives from the Combined Auto Theft Team, which include investigators from Kentwood, Grand Rapids, Wyoming and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, are also involved in the cases.
If you know anything, you are asked to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.