HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities are investigating a string of vehicle break-ins at parks and sporting events in Ottawa County.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said thieves broke windows of locked vehicles and stole purses and wallets left in the passenger compartment during youth sporting events in Holland Township on May 6. The suspects got away with several thousands of dollars of purses and cash, credit cards, checks and identification cards.
Then on May 7, the sheriff’s office said several vehicles were broken into at a park in Tallmadge Township.
On May 8 and 9, the stolen identification cards were used to pass stolen checks at several local banks. When bank employees confronted the suspect, she left the bank before deputies arrived, according to an OCSO news release.
The checks were stolen from sporting events in Indiana and totaled more than $13,000, the release said.
The sheriff’s office released surveillance photos of the woman who is believed to have passed the stolen checks and the vehicle she was driving.
“Several of (the break-ins) have been sporting events, youth soccer games and that type of thing. The people, when they leave their vehicle, even if they leave it locked they’re leaving their valuables visible … and the thieves are punching a window, breaking a window out and grabbing those purses,” Capt. Jake Sparks said.
The sheriff’s office is reminding residents to lock their car doors and not to leave valuables or keys inside. If you must leave valuables inside the car, you are encouraged to store them inside a locked trunk or hidden out of sight.
“They seem to be following the sporting events around because of the large number of vehicles that are parked there. It’s a target-rich environment of sorts,” Sparks said, adding that some of the break-ins have happened on the east side of the state.
Sparks said that he was told one of the area banks has put up a $500 reward for anyone who is able to identify the woman or vehicle or knows anything about the break-ins. It’s unclear which bank is offering the reward.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.