More Kent County car dealerships burglarized Monday

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. They got the keys to one lease return in the lot and a new vehicle inside the dealership.

Then thieves didn’t even bother opening a garage door to the showroom, instead drove it right through the glass panel door.

The series of break-ins, which includes at least six over the weekend, has frustrated dealers who were recently allowed to reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown.

Detectives are also frustrated.

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.

Not much more is known about the suspect other than he was one of several involved with multiple suspects breaking into the dealership and stealing the keys. Another group then returns to steal the vehicles.

Similar crimes have happened around the country.

Kent County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Joy Mathews told News 8 Monday that detectives believe the suspects are local.

“I definitely think it could be a copycat. I think this is something that’s been happening over the years,” Matthews said. “I don’t think they necessarily have a plan to do something with the vehicles. From everything that we have found, they just use the vehicles to commit additional crimes.”

A neighbor noticed a door at one of the dealerships had been busted open over the weekend.

Matthews says despite a recent drain on resources, road patrol has not been cut back. But they could still use some extra eyes and ears.

“During this time, while our resources are being directed toward other things — COVID-19 related or the protest, riot-related, we do ask our residents if you see something out of the ordinary to let us know,” Matthews said.

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 616.774.2345.