BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Deputies say a stolen Jeep they chased along US-131 south of Grand Rapids early Wednesday had more than 100 pieces of stolen mail inside.
Kent County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Brunner said a Kalamazoo woman called just before 1 a.m. and said she had learned her Jeep, which had been stolen Tuesday, was in southern Kent County.
Deputies spotted the Jeep in the area of 84th Street and US-131 in Byron Township and tried to pull it over but the driver took off south on the highway. Deputies gave chase.
“When it comes to vehicle pursuits, they’re very dangerous. There’s policy built in. And so that officer behind the wheel is evaluating constantly what crime was committed, what are the circumstances, what’s my environment?” Brunner said, pointing out that the chase happened in middle of the night on a limited-access highway with traffic headed in one direction. “It’s just a property crime, a stolen car; however, depending on what these cars are being used in, sometimes they’re used in shootings, so that elevates that threat to your community.”
He said deputies and supervisors are always considering while a chase is underway whether it should be stopped.
In this case, deputies waiting at US-131 at 100th Street laid down spike strips. The Jeep hit them but kept going for about four more miles. A photo released by the sheriff’s department showed the Jeep was driving on its rims by the time it stopped just north of the exit to 142nd Avenue at Dorr.
Two people, a 40-year-old man and 37-year-old woman from Kalamazoo, were arrested. Brunner said the owner of the Jeep knows the man.
“During that investigation, (deputies) found found a large amount of mail throughout the vehicle, not just the front seat floorboard, but (also) the glove box, the back seat,” Brunner said. “They found that mail was stolen from the Kalamazoo area, Ottawa County and then southern Kent County.”
Some of the mail contained credit or debit cards or checks. On Wednesday morning, detectives were sorting through the mail to get it to its rightful owners.
The suspects have been jailed on charges of auto theft, fleeing and eluding and possession of burglary tools. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service as called in to determine whether to pursue a federal case for stealing mail. Brunner said a federal case could carry harsher penalties.