"Once they were out and about, they just kept trying,” says Timothy Kozal, Manistee City Chief of Police. “It’s a crime of opportunity."
A laundry list of items stolen out of cars for months.
Manistee Police say three people have now admitted to the crimes.
The Manistee City Police chief says it’s been happening since November of last year.
Tuesday, a clue from one case led police to three suspects.
9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Jacob Johnson have the latest on the investigation — and how one victim is responding.
Manistee City Police started getting regular reports of car break-ins in November.
All in all, there around 35 to 40 cases.
“We feel like we need to be locking everything up now,” says a woman, who fell victim to such a crime on Memorial Day.
For one car owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, it happened in right in her driveway.
“My husband didn’t realize it until the next day that he had heard from the neighbors that there had been a break-in,” she says.
She says they targeted her husband’s truck.
“He was missing his filet knife and that was something very important to him,” she says. “We learned that we have to start locking the vehicles up and then, also, we are concerned about our house, too."
Kozal says these were crimes of opportunity.
He says the suspects looked through car windows and opened unlocked doors to steal things like a phone, a laptop, even a gun.
They also stole someone’s iPad.
The owner of which used an app to track it down.
“It just so happens that the victim was able to track the iPad through the app and we were able to work with that,” Kozal says.
That led them to a 16-year-old boy, and two other men, a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old, who confessed.
Police say other stolen goods included golf clubs, binoculars, wallets, and various cameras…all worth thousands of dollars.
“We’ve been here 21 years and actually it’s just been the past two years that something like this, they’ve been targeting our area,” says the victim. “We’re sad that this is happening."
“I can’t stress enough to the citizens, lock your doors, number one, and number two, don’t leave anything in there,” Kozal says.
Police say they’ve identified a fourth suspect but are still investigating their involvement.