Items reported stolen from vehicles in county

MANISTEE COUNTY — The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of breaking and entering cases of vehicles at river access sites around Manistee County.

All of these reports happened on July 1.

Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said while there’s no indication on whether the cases are related, reports were made at four different access site locations in the county, investigated by two different officers.

The following reports were filed on July 1 with the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office:

• Breaking and entering of a vehicle was reported at 3:14 p.m. at the Blacksmith Bayou Access Site in Dickson Township;

• Breaking and entering of a vehicle was reported at 4:51 p.m. at the Low Bridge Park and River Access in Norman Township;

• Breaking and entering was reported at 4:07 p.m. at Rainbow Bend Boat Launch in Brown Township; and

• Breaking and entering was reported at 4:07 p.m. at Bear Creek River Access Site in Brown Township.

The interesting part, O’Hagan said, all of the breaking and entering cases took place in broad daylight.

“We are already stepping up the enforcement so to speak, but what’s odd is it’s happening in the middle of the day,” he said. “It could be people coming onto the river or coming off, it could be people who are camping and nobody is around so they go check cars. It could be a combination of any of those things.”

O’Hagan said at Rainbow Bend Boat Launch three vehicles were broken into, along with one vehicle at the Bear Creek River Access Site. At both sites, combined, about $900 was stolen from these four vehicles, but in one vehicle tools were also taken.

“One officer reports, out of the two reports he dealt with — at Rainbow Bend and Bear Creek — there were six total victims in the two cases alone,” he said. “One of them did not even want to file a report.”

At the Blacksmith Bayou Access Site a laptop and wallet was taken, and he said a rear window was smashed to gain access to the vehicle. At Low Bridge Park and River Access a cellphone and some change was stolen.

Most of the incidents took place between noon and 5 p.m. However, in nearly all of the reports, O’Hagan said the culprit removed the keys that were hidden in the gas caps, and simply opened the doors.

“The other ones they all found keys in the gas cap. So that’s the first place they check,” O’Hagan said. “If the door is locked, they go straight to the gas cap. They used the keys to get in, and then they actually put the keys back.”

The four sites are in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. O’Hagan said officers patrol the campgrounds and access sites.

“All of those are patrolled by us in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service,” O’Hagan said. “Basically, we have an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service where on overtime, just about every weekend, we are sending patrol cars to the campgrounds, which also includes the parking lots of all river access sites.”

O’Hagan said the recent breaking and entering incidents on July 1 were the result of many factors, and people could help to prevent them.

While these cases were at river access points, he said home invasions and breaking and entering cases could happen anywhere, and are more common in the summer months due to the warm weather and surplus of visitors.

“It’s a holiday weekend and a lot of people from out of town come here, so you have the influx of people coming into your community,” O’Hagan said. “Again, people come here on the holidays or a weekend — that’s what they do. So you are increasing your chances to become a victim.

“Normally, these happen outside of a holiday at any time — we know that — but you don’t have that influx of people, so there’s just a few here and there.”

To help prevent this type of activity, O’Hagan said people should always lock their doors, hide valuables from plain sight and never hide keys in obvious places.

“(This happens) just by not following some simple things like keeping your valueables out of site and your doors locked, and not keeping your keys in the gas cap or on a tire. Some people even put them in front of the grill, but that’s not a good idea,” he said.

If you spot any suspicious activity, O’Hagan said to always report it to the police. In case a home invasion or breaking and entering does occur, he said people should always refrain from touching possible evidence.

“We will talk to other campers (or people), and you’d be surprised how the smallest lead will move us toward other things,” he said. “So, call even if you weren’t a victim and just saw something. It’s usually pretty spot on.”

The investigations remain open at this time.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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