Car thefts surge in Grand Rapids; stolen vehicles often used in other crimes

Grand Rapids police reported 803 vehicle thefts in 2020. a significant year-over-year increase and trend in the US

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Grand Rapids auto thefts increased more than 30% over the past year. This reflects a trend that has been reported in other regions of the country, with the pandemic serving as the common denominator.

The city reported 803 vehicle thefts in 2020; for 2019 the number was 617.

The trend shows no signs of slowing down. Around two dozen vehicle thefts have been reported in the city in the past seven days. And it’s not just kids having fun.

“We are finding that they are using these cars in other crimes, whether it be smashing and seizing cell phone shops or armed robbery or shooting in our city or other jurisdictions,” Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Dan Adams said. “They are used in other violent crimes.”

Stolen cars are also being brought far outside the Grand Rapids subway area, he said.

“Earlier this week one of our vehicles was stolen in Grand Rapids and recovered in Livingston County,” said Adams. “It was driven by a 14-year-old man. ”

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the two years of declining vehicle thefts changed abruptly in 2020.

“All indications are that 2020 will be by far the biggest year of theft in the last decade,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of NICB, in a press release.

Factors contributing to this include the pandemic, the resulting economic downturn, and the loss of youth contact programs, he said.

Grand Rapids investigators say the thefts here are not necessarily “spontaneous” crimes.

“It is very much by design,” said Adams. “You hit the car dealerships; They are convenience stores for the people who drive in and leave their cars running or their keys in the car. ”

Adams urged gun owners not to leave guns in their vehicle. “We’ve had too many cases where they left their gun in the car. Now their car is stolen and the person now has a gun. ”

At this point, car thefts are showing no signs of slowing down, Adams said.

“If the current trend continues, we will be on the pace in 2021 to beat 2020,” he said. “We will exceed last year’s numbers.”

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