KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The search continues for a group of thieves who did thousands of dollars in damage to at least nine stores in Kent County early Friday morning.
Investigators are looking for at least six suspects, recorded on multiple businesses' surveillance cameras overnight.
D. Schuler's Fine Wines and Spirits in Wyoming, Tiny Giant in Kentwood, Marathon Gas Station in Kentwood, J and H Family Store in Grand Rapids, Noxx Cannabis in Grand Rapids, Wonderland Party Store in Walker, Family Fare Gas Station in Byron Township and the Smoke Shack in Grand Rapids were all struck by burglars.
An unnamed business in Kentwood rounds out the list of stores struck by burglary early Friday morning.
The surveillance videos shared with 13 ON YOUR SIDE show the suspects smashing the glass to get in multiple businesses, stealing cash, liquor and tobacco products.
Investigators with the Kent County Sheriff's Office believes these incidents are likely connected.
"I'm very frustrated, I'm very angry now," Mohammed Ateef, manager at the Marathon Gas Station, says.
Footage from their security camera shows a black SUV pull up around 3:45 a.m. Friday. The front door was broken with a rock, and multiple people rush inside, jumping over the counter and going for the cash register and tobacco products.
"$700 cash and $35 (in) coins, and the rest, they take like e-cigarettes and stuff," Ateef says.
This is the second break-in in the last month, and he wants to see police patrols in the area at night, as well as street surveillance cameras.
"I'm trying to put the bars now (on the glass) for my safety, for business (and) myself. And we have monitored cameras and everything possible, (but) still they are stealing," Ateef says.
"I don't think we ever needed a camera. But now we do, so better safe than sorry," Wonderland Party Store Owner Nin Singh says.
The liquor store in Walker was also broken into overnight, for the first time. The owner says a similar car to the gas station burglary pulled up, and several people broke in through the backdoor.
"This whole vape section was emptied out. They stole some Patron bottles, a couple of high end bottles too, but really just made a mess," Singh says.
In Wyoming, $10,000 worth of products were stolen from D. Schuler's Fine Wine and Spirits.
"I think that's been a wakeup because it can happen to you, and I think it's happening to a lot of people," Owner Jane Vander Laan says.
In Grand Rapids, this was The Smoke Shack's third burglary in the last year.
"It's very, very frustrating man, being woken up in the middle of night having to come here and board up the window here till lclose to 5 a.m.," Owner Nael Saleh says.
It appears that someone drove through the front doors of the Family Fare Gas Station on Clyde Park Avenue to get in, and security cameras show the burglars rushing through the Tiny Giant Party Store in Kentwood.
The glass was smashed in at J and H Family Store and Noxx Dispensary in Grand Rapids.
"When you have a crime pattern, very similar to what we had last night in such a small timeframe, one automatically assumes that they're going to be connected, whether it's the same individuals going to each location, or whether it's the same group groups working together to to perpetrate these crimes," Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt says. "More than likely they are all connected, but we don't know that for certain yet."
No arrests have been made in these incidents, and no injuries have been reported.
Most of the businesses that were broken into had the glass smashed in with a rock. The owner of Five Star Window Coatings says window film is one of the best security measures to protect glass.
"If somebody has the tenacity, eventually you can get through. But most people, most criminals don't work that hard to break through the window film," Owner Randy Hutson says. "They hit it a few times, they see it's not going to break, like a typical piece of glass, they turn around and walk away. So it's a huge deterrent."
He says usually when there are a number of break-ins in the community, his company gets requests for estimates as business owners try to protect their property from being targeted in the future.
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