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'Unsettling' overnight break-in costs West MI business thousands

The thief allegedly stowed away inside the building until after closing, then walked away with a shopping cart full of merchandise.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids business says its out thousands of dollars following a robbery that took a turn toward the bizarre when the suspected thief allegedly fell asleep inside the building before it closed.

After waking up, police said he began stealing from the small business.

Cellphone video filmed shortly after the robbery panned over a broken landscape: shattered glass from a broken display case and a trail of merchandise leading to what appeared to be an open safe behind the counter.

“You just immediately go to ‘oh, my God, how bad,’” Shakedown Street President Rhonda Miller recalled the phone call she received Saturday morning.

“He got into the safe… mostly high end stuff. He knew what he was doing.”

Nothing like this, she said, had ever occurred in the business’ 30 plus year tenure on Leonard Street.

“Seeing somebody in your store on a camera is very unsettling,” Miller related. “Especially since the doors were locked.”

The thief, Miller believed, hid inside the building until well after closing and waited until after 1 a.m. in the morning to push away a shopping cart full of her product.

She was in communication with the store’s insurance company as of Monday, she said, as the process of narrowing down what was missing continued.

Between the high-end vaporizers, pipes and other pricey-merchandise, Miller believed total losses tied to the theft could exceed $10,000.

Marty Oaks, the suspect named by investigators, addressed a judge in 61st District Court Monday morning, noting he’d retained his own representation.

Credit: WZZM
Marty Oaks appears in court Monday.

There, Oaks was formally charged with two felonies tied to the crime.

A search of court records, however, revealed the overnight theft was not Oaks’ first run-in with police, already on the schedule to be sentenced this month as a repeat offender tied to a 2022 home invasion.

“It was hard,” Lisa Grewe-Boland, the suspect’s mother, broke down as she revisited the impossible decision with which she said she wrestled prior to revealing her son as the alleged culprit. “It was hard for me to go ahead and say that my son did this.”

“Knowing that he has an addiction, and that he just needs help… there's just so many people out there that need help.”

Her son’s struggle with addiction and mental illness, Grewe-Boland said, had recently been improving.

She worried he had relapsed when she received a call from Oaks’ girlfriend and went over, finding items, she said, that didn’t belong to him.

“I just took it upon myself to go down Leonard Street, because that's the closest place that he could walk,” Grewe-Boland related. “I saw that there was a police car in front of Shakedown Street.”

After approaching staff members and revealing her son’s identity, she was then shown a clip of the store’s surveillance footage.

“I told them that it was my son.”

Coincidentally, we interviewed Oaks several hours prior to the incident.

He provided help and comfort to the victims of a wrong-way crash he witnessed.

“He does help people, but it's his own personal addiction that, you know, throws him off the edge and makes him make wrong choices,” Grewe-Boland noted.

After her son’s arrest, she said Oaks told her he couldn’t remember the crime, much less her visit the following morning.

An act he committed, she said, out of desperation. Hoping now that one of the more difficult conversations she’s had--as a mother—will put her son on a better path.

“All his family could do is help him but he has to understand that we're the ones that are there for him,” she related.  

As for Shakedown Street, along with the rattled nerves, the broken glass and the missing merchandise, Miller laments society’s failures, the struggle to find resources and end the cycle of addiction.

“We just don't have the help that they need,” she explained. “It's very concerning. I feel bad for him. I have no hate toward him… I just feel bad.”

Oaks’ bond was set at $25,000.

At the time of publication, he was due back in court for both crimes on March 28 and 29.

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