Thieves strike apartment complex after fire displaces multiple tenants

Thieves strike apartment complex after fire displaces multiple tenants. (File - WWMT)

Suspected thieves arrested after tenants displaced by a fire in Battle Creek report items missing worth thousands of dollars.

Days after a fire broke out at The Rivers apartments, police say items were stolen from multiple units and Newschannel 3's Brittany Gray spoke with detectives about the investigation and arrest.

The thefts certainly added insult to injury, but there was a silver lining. Police caught the suspected thieves and located a majority of the stolen property.

Crews boarded up a building at The River Apartments in Battle Creek after a fire broke out on February 1.

The combination of fire, smoke and water damage forced multiple families to relocate, at least temporarily.

Battle Creek Police Detective Sergeant Todd Elliott said no one was allowed inside until Sunday, which is when renters returned to collect their personal items.

Elliott said, “The people got in and they saw belongings missing from there, doors have been forced open. I don't know how many of the doors had been left unlocked, but it sounds like most of them were secured so once they forced their way through the boards that were put up, they were able to have free reign of the building”

Elliott says nine apartments were broken into. Electronics, like TVs, computer monitors and iPads were taken along with credit cards that were later used to buy more electronics.

He said in total $5,000 to $10,000 worth of electronics were gone, but police soon located suspects.

Elliott said, “Started doing investigation and ended up finding the apartment with the majority of the stolen property still in it.”

Police arrested five people, between the ages 15-years-old to 28-years-old. All were found in the same complex.

Police said most of the stolen property has been returned and they're asking other potential victims to call the Battle Creek Police Department.

Investigators are asking others to be vigilant and if you see something, say something.

Elliott said, “In the wintertime it's kind of strange to have somebody walking across an apartment complex carrying a television.”

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