A 41-year-old South Haven man is expected to face a series of criminal charges after breaking into a fire station Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 7, stealing a fire department jeep, and driving throughout town with emergency lights and siren deployed before surrendering to authorities approximately an hour later.
The incident unfolded at approximately 4 p.m. when South Haven Police were informed that a jeep, used to respond to brush fires, had been stolen from South Haven Area Emergency Services’ station on 66th Street in Casco Township, according to a news release from South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson.
“The suspect had broken windows in, gained entry, and stole the emergency vehicle,” Thompson stated in the news release. “The suspect allegedly also broke into other buildings in the area.”
The fire station, one of three owned and operated by South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES), is not normally manned, however, SHAES and police became aware that the vehicle had been stolen because the suspect was talking on its two-way radio.
“Authorities were not aware of the theft until a series of strange broadcasts started happening over the department’s two-way radio system,” said Tom Renner, a retired SHAES firefighter who now takes photos for the fire department.
Police immediately responded. One of the responding officers, however, ended up in a crash involving two other vehicles in the 500 block of North Shore Drive. The officer was taken to Bronson South Haven Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to Thompson.
Shortly afterwards, the suspect came to the main fire station at 91 Blue Star Hwy., where he was arrested. He was taken to Allegan County Jail pending arraignment on felony charges for breaking and entering, vehicle theft and several other charges, according to Thompson.
As of Wednesday morning, it was not known to South Haven Area Emergency Services Fire Chief and Administrator Brandon Hinz why the suspect broke into a fire station and stole the jeep.
“The person that stole the Jeep is not affiliated with SHAES in any way,” Hinz said. “The Casco station had two doors and one window broken...I don’t know if he gave a reason why he stole it, he was detained and being questioned when I saw him...Crazy days.”
Michigan State Police will be investigating the crash involving the police cruiser.