Thefts at outdoor movie event 'spectacularly violated'' victims, brings pair prison

Two men stole from people attending the Movies in the Park event.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Two men who stole from people attending a July Movies in the Park event outside Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum “struck a blow’’ against the family-friendly event, a judge said before sentencing the pair to prison.

“People have the right, coming to a public function, to be safe and secure,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber said. “And you and your confederates struck a blow against that principle by your callous theft.’’

Thomas Scott Kolenda and Stephen Mark Martin pleaded guilty to larceny from a person for the July 7 theft of a backpack and a purse.

Leiber this week sentenced the pair to between 1½ and 10 years in prison. The sentences, he said, should serve as a deterrence “to others who might be similarly tempted.’’

“What you did affected people,’’ Leiber said. “Not only the people that you stole from, but in a larger sense, the community in which you stole this property.’’

Kolenda, 33, and Martin, 44, were with two others when the thefts occurred. Two victims were identified in court records. In one case, a man had a backpack stolen. It contained an Apple iPhone, a tan purse, two sweatshirts, a wallet and credit cards. In the second case, a woman had her purse stolen.

A cellphone that was among the stolen loot helped Grand Rapids police track down the pair; they were booked into the Kent County Jail a day later.

Kolenda and Martin have criminal records and substance abuse issues. They both apologized before sentencing.

“I’m actually quite disgusted with myself and I’m very sorry,’’ Kolenda said. 

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