GRPD chief: Teens behind string of gun thefts

About 30 guns still missing after thefts from Cabela's and Barracks 616

Cabela's in Grandville on Sept. 20, 2017


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say break-ins at three metro Grand Rapids gun shops over the weekend are believed to be connected to the burglary at the Cabela’s in Grandville a week earlier — and they think teens are responsible.

“I can’t think of a more combustible combination than guns and young people,” Grand Rapids Police Department Chief David Rahinsky said. “It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.”

About a dozen guns were stolen from Cabela’s on Sept. 16. Five have since been recovered. And though police arrested a group of teens in connection to the burglary, there were three more smash-and-grabs at gun shops on Saturday and Sunday. Security measures at Rylee’s Ace Hardware on Michigan Street NE and Bachelder Master Gunmakers on Plymouth Avenue NE stymied the thieves, but they made off with about 20 guns from Barracks 616 in Cascade Township.

Barracks 616
Barracks 616 in Cascade Township. (Sept. 25, 2017)

Between all four break-ins, about 30 guns are still missing.

“The fact that these guns shops have been targeted is relatively unprecedented,” Rahinsky said. “It’s obviously orchestrated and organized.”

He would not say exactly why investigators believe the weekend break-ins are connected to the Cabela’s burglary.

At least four agencies are on the case, including GRPD, Grandville police, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They are looking for at least three perpetrators in the more recent break-ins.

Brad Bachelder showed 24 Hour News 8 the security bars that are “on any possible entrance” to his store. He said only two guns have ever been stolen from the various shops he has owned over the past 40 years.

Barracks 616 is already upgrading its security measures.

Mr Gun Dealer on 28th Street may have been another intended target, but a security gate — or possibly a name mix-up with the clothing store across the street — may have thrown off the thieves.

“What kind of lifestyle does it have to be to push you to revert to this kind of behavior at that young of an age?” wondered Steveen Gager, a Mr Gun Dealer employee.

The police chief said investigators do not believe the thefts are gang-related.

“I think it’s indicative of the mindset of some of the community,” Rahinsky said. “And that’s troubling. And that’s what we’re trying to fight.”

All of the stores hit have surveillance cameras, but told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday they are being advised not to release the video to the media.

Anyone with information is asked to call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.