Summertime doesn’t just mean more daylight for fun and spending time outdoors it also means more time for criminal activity. “...statistically, the City of Portland has very low crime,” says Portland City Manager, Tutt Gorman, “this is directly attributed to having a local police force and a strong family based community.” While it will surprise nobody to learn that Portland is a safe place to live, that doesn’t mean that crime never happens. When crime does occur though, in such a small community, it gets everyone’s attention. Ionia County Central Dispatch officials stated in a Facebook post that they have recently taken an “alarming number of calls regarding stolen property from unlocked vehicles or reports of stolen cars with keys left in them,” throughout the county.
Portland Police Chief Star Thomas says that the city police department has had four reports of such crimes as well as one car theft since the beginning of the month. On the 11th, a car was entered but nothing was taken on East Street. That same day a truck was stolen elsewhere in the city. It has subsequently been recovered and evidence in the case is being processed by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab. Chief Thomas says that the two incidents are believed to be connected. In cases like this, Thomas says it, “is usually someone looking for a ride out of town and back to Lansing / Detroit / Muskegon.”
On the 16th, a car parked with the windows down in the parking lot of Rite Aid on Grand River Avenue was entered, and a phone and cash that were left in plain sight were stolen. On the 21st, a car that was reportedly locked was entered on Brethel Drive, and cash and other valuables were stolen. However, there was no sign that the vehicle had been forcibly entered. On the 23rd, an unlocked car on Tillies Street was entered but nothing was stolen.
Additionally, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating a stolen truck on Okemos Road near I-96. That truck was reportedly unlocked, with the keys inside. Chief Thomas says she is also aware of, “a comment on the [Portland] community [Facebook] page regarding a vehicle stolen on Kent St,” but that it has not been reported to local, county or state police officials as far as she is aware.
This sort of crime is not unusual, says Chief Thomas, as, “crime traditionally seems to increase in the summer months.” In particular this sort of car “break in” can be easily avoided. According to the Ionia County Central Dispatch, most of these crimes are crimes of opportunity. An unlocked car is an opportunity--an easy target--a locked car takes time and effort to break into and steal. “We would like to strongly remind and encourage you all to never leave your keys or any valuables in your vehicles,” said Ionia dispatch officials. Portland Police Chief Thomas echoed that sentiment saying that, “the public can help us by making reports of suspicious activity when it’s observed and by reducing crimes of opportunity.”