GRPD: Car Thefts Are Up-Don't Leave Your Vehicle Running and Unattended

Dec 22, 2020

GRPD: Don't leave running vehicles unattended
Credit Grand Rapids Police Department /

Grand Rapids Police says auto theft is on the rise in Kent County.  And authorities say some drivers are making it far too easy.  They say the marked increase in auto theft is due in part to cars left running unattended.

Grand Rapids Police say auto theft has increased over the past year and is a major issue in Kent County. Predominately in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming. 

“Much of it is due to individuals leaving their cars unattended with their keys idling in the car.”

Grand Rapids Police Sergeant John Wittkowski, says auto thieves are opportunistic criminals, basically on the lookout for cars in driveways, gas station and convenience store parking lots and the like.

“Often times they’ll use it for a joy ride; we have seen a correlation to stolen cars and other crimes in the community.  Some of our shootings, are the result of cars that have been stolen and individuals committing violent acts as well.  This has been a trend in Grand Rapids for the better part of the summer and into the fall.”

And now, with the weather getting colder, people are leaving their cars on to warm them up

“We understand, it’s cold outside, people want to warm their cars up. But you have take due care and caution.”

GRPD is hoping people heed the warnings… as it stands now, From October of 2019 until October of this year, more than 12-hundred vehicles were stolen in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming.  Over the past three months alone, there have been 213 vehicles stolen in Grand Rapids.  Overall, police say auto thefts in Grand Rapids are up 37.5 percent from 2019.

So, aside from not leaving your car un attended-what can drivers do? 

“Remote car starters work fantastic. Car alarms, certainly.”

And there’s one other point to take note of, leaving your car running-unattended, while you’re not in it, is actually a civil infraction, punishable by a fine.