KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Van Buren County investigators confirmed Tuesday that a man and woman believed to have stolen several cars in Kalamazoo County in January were arrested while in possession of a stolen vehicle.
Sheriff's Capt. Virg Franks said the pair, whose identities are being withheld pending arraignment, were wanted in connection to a string a auto thefts dating back to early January. The people suspected of the thefts met up with several victims posing as potential buyers looking to purchase a car. They asked the victims to let them test drive the vehicle and then drive off, never returning the vehicles.
According to police, they would also steal cars left unattended from the Speedway gas station in Comstock.
Chaz Allen is one of the Speedway victims on a Saturday morning. He left the keys in his car and went inside the store to grab a few items. When he exited, he was shocked to see his car was missing.
“I just walked back inside and I asked the clerk, you know, ‘Do you guys have security cameras outside? I think my car just got stolen,’” Allen said.
Wendeva Dagnan-Allen, Chaz’s mother, said she and her son have investigated some on their own since the theft.
“I don’t think it’s fair that people just drive up and steal what doesn’t belong to them,” said Dagnan-Allen.
Chaz and Wendeva visited the Speedway and were able to view surveillance footage of the incident.
The mother and son said the video shows a man they believe the male suspect attempting to steal several cars from the same gas station just before stealing Allen’s 2001 Honda Civic EX Coup.
“He tried the door handle on one other car, but it was locked. A different car he actually opened the doors but it was not running and they took the keys, so again a no-go. He opened my car door,” Allen said. “It was running, everything was unlocked, so you know it was hop in and go.”
Allen works for an area auto dealer and said his employer was gracious enough to lend him a vehicle to get to work.
“You work hard everyday for your income just for someone to just decide that they want what you have and just take it,” Allen said. “I hate knowing the fact that someone is out there right now probably driving around in my car that’s not me.”
Dagnan-Allen searched the area looking for her son’s car, hoping to find it abandoned in a parking lot, or on the side of the road.
She has been in touch with other victims in the area, some claiming to have had cars stolen by the pair as recently as Monday.
Kalamazoo County Undersheriff James VanDyken said people can protect themselves and their property by never leaving their cars unlocked, on, and unattended no matter how short a time they expect to be in a store.
He said when selling a vehicle, use common sense. Never go alone, never let someone test drive the car alone, and also meet with a very public space, ideally the parking lot of a police station or a sheriff’s office where there are cameras to capture the transaction.
Dagnan-Allen said what the suspects are accused of doing requires an old-school approach of discipline.
“That needs a butt whooping, trust me,” she said. “I don’t know where their parents are, but we need to have a talk.”
“She’s my mom, and if I’m scared of her, they sure as heck need to be,” Allen said. “Be glad you took mine and not hers."
Correction: This article has been edited from its original post to correct the rank and department of one of the investigating officers.