Howard City Police sent out an alert to residents Monday about some suspicious incidents last week, where a couple approached businesses or individuals and asked for money.
According to Howard City Police Chief Steve DeWitt, the incidents occurred at least three times last week. Each time, a couple asked for money to “fix the heater in their truck.” He said one incident was near a dollar store in Howard City, after the suspects observed the caller at the ATM machine. In the second incident, they went into a local business with the same story, and the third time was at the truck Stop on M46.
Two different vehicles are reportedly involved. One is a dark blue or royal blue late 80s or early 90s Ford Ranger (maybe a S-10) pickup truck with a topper. The second is a red, early 90s Jeep Cherokee. License plates on both vehicles were covered in snow.
In all three incidents, the couple asking for money included a female in her early 20s and a male subject. On a third occasion, a second male was also in the vehicle.
The couple may have also been doing the same thing here in Cedar Springs. After we posted this alert on our Facebook page, a reader said he had also seen this couple at Family Fare, with the Ford Ranger. They told him they were from Mount Pleasant. When they asked for money, he sent them inside to use the phone.
DeWitt said he thinks he knows who the people are, and they are not from Mount Pleasant, but Howard City. “It is not illegal to panhandle for money, however the activities are suspicious and we would like to speak to the subjects involved,” he explained.
He had some advice for people doing their banking outside. “Use common sense when at ATMs. Keep your doors locked, pull your vehicle tight to the building, and be aware of your surroundings, wherever you are.”
Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent said that with the new state law allowing panhandling, there is not much police can do. “If they are on private property, a business would need to call us with a complaint for us to tell them to leave,” he explained.