Investigators are looking for at least six suspects and at least nine burglaries have been reported.
KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The search continues for a group of thieves who caused thousands of dollars in damage to at least nine Kent County stores early Friday morning.
Investigators are looking for at least six suspects who were recorded overnight on surveillance cameras at multiple businesses.
D. Schuler’s Fine Wines and Spirits in Wyoming, Tiny Giant in Kentwood, Marathon Gas Station in Kentwood, J and H Family Store in Grand Rapids, Noxx Cannabis in Grand Rapids, Walker’s Wonderland Party Store, Byron Township The Family Fare gas station in New York and the Smoke Shack in Grand Rapids were both targeted by thieves.
An unnamed business in Kentwood listed the shop that was stolen early Friday morning.
Surveillance video shared with 13 ON YOUR SIDE shows the suspects smashing glass into multiple businesses and stealing cash, alcohol and tobacco products.
Investigators with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office believe the incidents are likely linked.
“I’m very frustrated, I’m very angry right now,” said Mohammed Ateef, manager of the Marathon gas station.
Footage from their security cameras showed a black SUV pulled over at about 3.45am on Friday. The front door was smashed with a rock and multiple people rushed in, leaping over the counter to reach the cash register and tobacco products.
“$700 in cash and $35 (in coins), and the rest, they take it like e-cigarettes and stuff,” Ateef said.
It was the second burglary in nearly a month, and he wanted to see that there were police patrolling the area at night, as well as surveillance cameras on the street.
“For my safety, for the business (and) myself, I’m trying to put railings (on the glass) right now. We’ve monitored the cameras and everything possible, (but) they’re still stealing,” Ateef said.
“I don’t think we ever needed cameras. But now we do, so it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Wonderland Party Store owner Nin Singh.
Walker’s liquor store was also broken into overnight, which was the first time. A car similar to the gas station theft was pulled over and several people broke in through the back door, the owner said.
“The whole vape area was emptied. They stole some Patron bottles, they stole a couple of high-end bottles, but it was a real mess,” Singh said.
In Wyoming, $10,000 worth of product from D. Schuler’s Fine Wine and Spirits was stolen.
“I think it’s a wake-up call because it can happen to you, and I think it’s happening to a lot of people,” owner Jan Vanderlaan said.
In Grand Rapids, it was the third burglary at The Smoke Shack in the past year.
“It’s very, very frustrating for people to be woken up in the middle of the night and have to come here and board up the windows until 5am,” said owner Nael Saleh.
It appears someone drove through the front door of the Family Fare gas station on Clyde Park Avenue and security cameras showed thieves storming the Tiny Giant Party Store in Kentwood.
Glasses were smashed at the J and H Family Store and Noxx Dispensary in Grand Rapids.
“When you have a crime pattern so similar to what we experienced last night in such a short period of time, people automatically assume they’re going to be linked, whether it’s the same person going to each location, or the same group of people working together. commit these crimes,” said Deputy Chuck DeWitt. “It’s likely that they’re all related, but we don’t know for sure yet.”
No arrests were made in these incidents, and no injuries were reported.
Most of the businesses that were broken into had glass smashed with stones. The owner of Five Star Window Coatings says window film is one of the best safety measures for protecting glass.
“If someone has perseverance, eventually you can get through. But most people, most criminals don’t try that hard to break the window membrane,” said owner Randy Hutson. “They hit it a few times and they saw it wasn’t going to shatter, like a typical piece of glass, and they turned and walked away. So it was a huge deterrent.”
Typically, he said, when there are multiple burglaries in a community, his firm receives requests for appraisals, as business owners try to protect their property from future raids.
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