OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — We've been following an uptick in car thefts happening around Grand Rapids and Kentwood, particularly of specific car models.
Now, 13 ON YOUR SIDE has learned the same problem is happening along the lakeshore.
"Kia's are being targeted," said Capt. Jacob Sparks of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office. "And that seems to be a more recent trend."
"Car thefts are up in general for us across the County this year," he added.
The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office says the County has already had five stolen Kia's in the month of June.
"We hear there's maybe a universal key or a universal starting system to those types of cars," said Capt. Sparks. "I don't know if that's the specific reason or what, but we have seen those being taken."
On Saturday, seven juveniles were arrested at the Grand Haven City Beach for two stolen cars, a gun and other stolen property. Grand Haven Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hawke confirmed that one of those stolen cars was a Kia out of Grand Rapids.
"We've had vehicles stolen from hotels, and from rental car lots," said Capt. Sparks, "so we just encourage people to lock their vehicles and don't keep any valuables in there either."
The City of Kentwood and Grand Rapids Police have both reported seeing an uptick in specific Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts.
Captain Sparks said that agencies work with each other and communicate about problems they have that may be overlapping.
"Oftentimes, when these vehicles are stolen, they end up in a different jurisdiction," he explained. "The thieves will keep them, drive them, sometimes to commit other crimes with or just for a joy ride, but then they'll dump them or abandon the vehicle."
"It's tough to nail down why they're doing it or why the increase right now," he added, "but I can tell you that it's been a rising problem."
As always, law enforcement reminds people to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
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