19 vehicles stolen from auto dealer, largest theft of its kind in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Thieves made off with 19 vehicles at a soon-to-open Grand Rapids used car dealership early Friday, marking the largest such theft in Grand Rapids.

Don Miller, owner of Autowest of Grand Rapids on 28th Street just east of Madison Avenue, said thefts were both aggravating and sad.

The thieves used large rocks to break into an office and steal 72 sets of keys, then managed to drive off with 19 vehicles.

Autowest of Grand Rapids was set to have a grand opening ceremony Saturday. It will still open as planned, but maybe with not as much fanfare as originally planned.

“We haven’t even gotten our feet wet and this happens,” Miller said. “It really hurts.”

Miller thinks a crew of thieves, maybe six to eight people, were involved in the thefts. Police recovered three vehicles parked at a Taco Bell nearly across the street, then another vehicle behind an Auto Zone.

The thefts represented about one fifth of the dealer’s 72-car inventory and the loss was estimated at about $328,000.

Miller said he and other staff worked hard Friday to haul in other vehicles from two other dealerships he owns, in Allegan and Plainwell.

Among the vehicles taken were a Jaguar and a 2020 Ford Edge Titanium.

The inventory is insured, Miller said, but it can take months to sort out insurance arrangements.

“Our employees have dedicated so much time to make sure this was a successful opening. And there’s a lot of people who poured their heart and soul into this to get where we’re at,” he said.

He said a glitch with the building’s internet connection may have prevented surveillance cameras at the business from working properly, but staff was still working Friday to see if any footage could be accessed.

Anyone with information about the thefts can call Grand Rapids police at 616-456-3400 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

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