Tire thieves gain traction

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:42 PM

Two Chevrolet Tahoes and a Chevrolet Suburban were left high and dry after thieves stole all of their wheels sometime Sunday.

“The wheels were taken in what looks like two separate events early Sunday morning and then late Sunday evening,” said Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Grandville police are investigating a similar incident over the weekend in their area, Bennett said.

Police responded to Betten Baker I-96 Coopersville on the first incident Sunday morning. The dealership is located on O’Malley Drive and is visible from the freeway east of 68th Avenue.

At about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, a full-size pickup truck with tires in the back was observed leaving the area, Bennett said. Police then found that more vehicles had been vandalized.

The detective said the vehicles were jacked up with a portable car jack, the wheels were removed and the vehicles were left sitting on broken pieces of cement.

Anyone with information on the incidents should call Silent Observer at 877-88-SILENT, or leave a tip online at mosotips.com.

Bennett said the value of the stolen wheels and tires is in excess of $14,000.

Saronto Waller shook his head in disgust when he saw the tireless vehicles late Monday morning. The Norton Shores man said he was celebrating his birthday by purchasing a new car.

“I think it’s extremely childish,” he said of the vandalism. “I think it’s stupid.” 

Wheels and rims from 13 Buick Enclaves were taken from the Coopersville car lot in October 2012, according to the dealership's finance director.

Baker said police patrol the lot frequently, so he is surprised the vandals were not caught.

Five months after a similar incident occurred at a Spring Lake-area used car dealership, owner Larry Draeger said justice is finally being served. One of three people arrested two days after tires were taken from cars at Draeger Motor Sales Inc. in early July will be sentenced Jan. 6.

Draeger said he’s glad police arrested the men, but he thinks these guys were just part of the problem.

“One guy was from the other side of the state,” he said. “The other two guys were recruited from here."

Draeger said he thinks publicity generated by the crime at his Cleveland Street business helped raise awareness and lead to the arrest of the men in Whitehall.

“A lady on her way to work at 5:30 a.m. saw this happening and called 911,” he said.

What she saw were some men taking tires off a car at a Whitehall dealership. Police were able to track down the suspects and then arrest them.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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