Thieves Target Outdoor Power Equipment Stores Statewide

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Outdoor power equipment stores have become targets for thieves in Michigan.

Ninety seconds. That's how long it took two men to steal 19 items from Mike's Power Equipment in St. Johns.

"They probably cased the place," Mike's Power Equipment Co-owner Julie French said. "They kind of knew what they were after. They were in and out so quick. There were things that they walked by in order to grab other things that they could have easily grabbed while they were right there."

After reviewing the surveillance footage that shows to hooded man bust open the door with a sledgehammer, police agree it was a professional job. They got away with five generators, eleven chain saws, and a blower to the tune of $8,000. The thieves were gone before police were even contacted by the alarm company.

"They were aware they had to be in and out quickly, so we believe it's not local youths that are doing it, but more of an organized group," St. Johns Police Department Lt. Bob Wilkie said.

The New Year's Eve heist has the store owners on edge.

"It's a very eerie feeling to know that probably someone has been in here that we've talked to, and for them to come back and do this to us is, it's heartbreaking," French said.

Mike's is just one of several outdoor equipment stores that have been robbed recently around the state and in the Mid-Michigan area, including one in Bath Township. A multi-agency task force has been formed led by the Michigan State Police. It's in the beginning stages of the investigation, but law enforcement believes all the incidents are connected.

"I can't really disclose a lot of the information that the task force has come up with, but they're following up on the leads and they're reviewing our evidence, along with the task force information," Lt. Wilkie said.

Wilkie said there have been 19 similar incidents statewide.

Until the thieves are caught, Mike's has a message for fellow business owners.

"I think if they want it bad enough, they're going to get in," French said. "It doesn't matter what time, but they're out there, and it could happen to anybody."

French believes the equipment is probably already out of the state.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the St. Johns Police Department at 989-224-6721.


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