Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pair arrested believed connected to a string of robberies in rural areas

Two men arrested in connection with a break-in Grand Haven Township have been connected to several dozen break-ins and thefts in eastern Ottawa and western Kent counties, according to Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mark Bennett.

“We believe that these two have been actively working the two-county area since December of 2010, Bennett said. “We believe they are responsible for a large number of the thefts that have occurred in Allendale, Chester, and Wright townships in Ottawa County and in the northwestern part of Kent County.”

He said Joel Wood, 32, and Mark McGregor, 42, both of Grand Rapids, were arrested Aug. 26 after they allegedly robbed the Lake Cycles shop, 12200 U.S. 31 in Grand Haven Township. “We had gotten a tip from the public earlier in the week that these two might be involved in the rash of thefts and break-ins that had been going on across the area,” Bennett said.
From that lead, Bennett said several area police departments were able to develop information on the pair and had them under surveillance when they broke into the cycle shop early the morning of Aug. 26. “We had deputies make a routine traffic stop after the two men left the shop,” Bennett said. “Deputies identified stolen items in their vehicle and were able to make an arrest without incident.”

From there, Bennett said that deputies from the City of Walker, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office worked together to bring together other information to locate other stolen goods the two had at their home on Bristol Avenue and 3 Mile Road. “We were able to recover electronics, ATVs, farm equipment, and other stolen goods, much of which has been returned to its rightful owner,” Bennett said.

As to the three police departments working together – Bennett said that this is another case of exemplary law enforcement relationships leading to solution of a major case. “We have been given tools by Homeland Security that allow our departments to share information and to work together,” he said. “But the department always have to want to work together and in West Michigan, we have always shown that we will do everything we can to bring criminals to justice.”

McGregor and Woods were arraigned in 58th District Court in Grand Haven earlier this week. Both were given bond. Wood remains in the Ottawa County Fillmore Street Jail while McGregor was given a $5,000 bond, which he has posted.

The two are expected to face several more charges either late this week or early next as Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald Frantz is looking at all of the evidence and currently deciding how to charge the pair for the extensive number of burglaries and thefts which occurred in Ottawa County. The Kent County prosecutor is reportedly doing the same.

As the two both have long criminal histories, according to court documents, they both are expected to be charged as habitual criminals, Bennett said. 


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