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Mason Co. Sheriff’s Office believes they have caught suspect in Ludington business break-ins, charges unclear due to age

UPDATE 2/20/24 6:00 p.m.

Deputies from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office caught a 17-year-old on Saturday who they say broke into several businesses and caused tens of thousands dollars worth of damage.

But it is not clear what charges he will face because of a new state law that was put into effect in October of 2021.


“It was tens and tens of thousands of dollars, probably 75, $85,000 in damage that was done to these various businesses,” said Sheriff Kim Cole.

He broke into nine businesses two weekends in a row.

“He had hit two consecutive weekends and he was ready to hit a third because he was just coming right up the walk toward my office,” said Doctor James Morley, Owner of Morley Chiropractic Wellness.

He was found walking alongside North Jebavy Drive headed in the direction of those businesses.


“When we when we took him into custody and we didn’t even really take him into custody, I guess we did in the sense that we took him off the street. But then we turned around when they found out his age and they took him home. That’s it,” said Sheriff Cole.

The juvenile suspect was released to his parents due to legislation changing the age of juvenile offenders from 16 to 17 on October 1, 2021. With the law changing, it’s leaving those businesses to rely on insurance and their own money to rebuild.

“We worked so hard and, you know, to have I mean, this set us back,” said Dr. Morley.

He also said that some of the damage is invisible.


“I think the community as a whole is kind of on edge,” said Dr. Morley. “It’s scary because, I mean, if he’s not allowed to have the chance to do that again, that’s one thing. But if he’s in the future allowed to do that again, that’s worrisome.”

Other businesses in the area agreed with what Dr. Morley said but chose not to partake in an interview as they are afraid the suspect will come back.

“I just wish people in Lansing would think a little bit more about victims of crime when they pass these measures,” said Sheriff Cole.

“I hope the justice system gives justice to us and I hope anyway,” said Dr. Morley.


In addition to break-ins, the new “Raise the Age” law is also impacting retailers when it comes to shoplifters.

According to Sheriff Cole, criminals can now steal up to $800 from stores without being arrested, and instead, they will be given tickets.

In the cases of people under the age of 18, Undersheriff Derrek Wilson says that sometimes they will hold them in a juvenile holding facility.

However, that’s usually not the case because they don’t have enough facilizes in the state.

“Oftentimes they’re not because we don’t have enough facilities in our state what we’re finding is our juvenile court officers are traveling all over the country. They’re putting thousands of miles on their vehicles, taking juveniles all over the country, some to Arizona, some to Indiana because we don’t have anything local,” said Undersheriff Wilson.

He says that Ludington is a tourist destination and with all the small businesses in the area, those break-ins and theft can be devastating.

UPDATE 2/17/24 8:45 p.m.

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Sheriff’s Office believes they have arrested the person responsible for the break-ins. Early Saturday morning, patrol deputies noticed a suspicious person in the area of Jebavy Drive, and made contact with him. Through their investigation, they believe this person is the subject involved in the burglaries, and was likely on his way to break in to more businesses when deputies noticed him.

The sheriff’s office wants to thank the community for keeping an eye out and calling in tips, and their deputies who worked on this case.

The investigation is still underway.

UPDATE 2/13/24 1:15 p.m.

LUDINGTON — Deputies have released surveillance video of the suspect in a string of break-ins over the weekend. They’re asking for the public’s help identifying the individual.

2/12/24 6:00 p.m.

LUDINGTON — People in a Northern Michigan community are looking for answers after a string of vandalism and break ins.

“I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep for a while since,” said Owner of Morley Chiropractic Wellness, Dr. James Morley.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office said that nine businesses in the Ludington area were either broken into or there was an attempt, and they’re still looking for the suspect of suspects.

“It’s random too, you know, nothing specific, just random businesses,” said Mason County Undersheriff Derrek Wilson. “They found that the business had been broken into and some vandalism had taken place.”

But what’s even more confusing for the community is that nothing was stolen.

“But when I walked in, it was like a hurricane had hit. Salad dressing squeezed it into our computer. They smashed windows. They kicked in our walls,” said Dr. Morley.

This is the second weekend in a row that some businesses have been hit.

“They were here multiple times, apparently,” said Dr. Morley.

But a suspect in the case, has yet to be found.

‘That’s why people move to Ludington. It’s a safe place. And I’ve always felt safe. But not so much anymore, you know?” said Morley.

Wilson said that with the recent break-ins, it’s a good idea to take safety precautions.

“I think that security systems are a huge plus. You know, that’s what alerted us that morning was a security system. Also tempered glass deadbolt locks any way that you can make your building more fortified, so to speak,” said Wilson.

Captain Chucks II is one of the businesses in the area that hadn’t been broken into, but they say it could have been a pretty close call.

“I come in about 6:30 to 6:35, and apparently it happened around 6:20 or 6:25. So we weren’t here too long when the police showed up and ask us, you know, what was going on and if we had any footage,” said Captain Chuck’s II Archery Technician Randy Dereske.

“It’s a little scary to think with all the all the equipment and things we have in here that it was so close to us,” he adds.

But for now, the businesses that were impacted have a long road to recover.

“We can function with, you know, holes in our wall, but to get back to the way we want to be is probably going to take months,” said Dr. Morley.

If you have any information on the break-ins, call the Mason County Sheriff’s Office at 231-843-3475.

2/12/24 10:29 a.m.

LUDINGTON — Mason County deputies are investigating a string of break-ins at businesses in Ludington.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, deputies responded to an alarm at a business on N. Jebavy Dr. around 6:30 a.m.

They said a window was broken and the suspect was able to get inside. As deputies, assisted by K9, swept the area, they found the suspect had broken into or attempted to break into a total of nine businesses on Jebavy.

The Sheriff’s Office has not identified a suspect so far.

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