ROCKFORD, Mich. — The trend of car thefts in Kent County continued Thursday, the latest victim: Graff Chrysler-Dodge in Rockford. Lon Keely, owner of Graff Chrysler-Dodge in Rockford, arrived on Thursday morning to discover that one of his showroom windows had been smashed and that there were a few cars missing.
“They breached the door with a baseball bat, they smashed the window in,”Keely stated that the thieves could be seen on security cameras scurrying around the dealership.
“They immediately started looking for keys, you could tell they were looking for keys,”He said. “Then you start seeing cars circling.”
What’s been troubling for sheriff’s deputies and for business owners like Keely is what’s happening after the cars are stolen.
“They’re not using the vehicles to sell the vehicles, part the vehicles, do anything like that. They’re using the vehicles to do other crimes,”Keely.
“It’s very bad,” said Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young. “This is a community wide problem that we need to get a handle on. We’ve had a murder related to car theft, we’ve had multiple B and E’s, we’ve had armed robberies, and then reckless driving where people are injured.”
KCSO claims that the car stolen from Graff early Thursday was later used for a smash-and grab break-in at a nearby cannabis dispensary.
Sheriff Lajoye Young claims that some guns that were used in criminal acts were taken from vehicles.
The rise in thefts began in 2019 – between that year and 2020, auto thefts increased 111% and sustained through the pandemic.
For lot owners like Keely, it’s not a financially easy fix. He owns the franchise and will likely be making tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s my car, it’s my glass, it’s my building, this is my business,”He said. “It is a personal thing, it’s very personal. You don’t’ carry small deductibles so we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars that we’ll lose personally.”
If you know anything about the recent rash of car thefts, or experience it yourself call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office or Silent ObserverPhone: (616)-774-2333