Father, son charged in break-ins that netted cash, coins and pills

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A father and son from Illinois traveled to West Michigan and posed as handymen or delivery drivers while they targeted the elderly for larcenies and carried out break-ins at high-end suburban homes, court records show.

They needed money for truck repairs and a child’s birthday, the father told police, court records show.

Using a hotel as their base of operations, they hit homes in at least four jurisdictions, officials said.

The mid-January crime spree ended when a local man who rented them a minivan repossessed it for violation of the rental agreement, investigators wrote. The vehicle owner called police after a search of the minivan turned up a crowbar, screwdriver, gloves, $10,000 in cash, jewelry, coins and walkie-talkies, court records show.

Father and son were arrested; a third suspect is still being sought.

Police: Look out for thieves posing as city employees

Jason L. Frank, 46, and his 20-year-old son, Cody L. Frank, face eight felony charges that could keep them locked up for decades.

The elder Frank called the crime spree a “f—– up situation.’’

“He advised . . . he was desperate for money to fix his truck and they needed money for his grandson’s birthday,’’ an investigator wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

Bond for the younger Frank approaches $1 million; bond for his father tops $3 million. Both remain in the Kent County jail. Attorneys representing both men asked for a reduction in bond during a hearing Wednesday in Kent County’s 63rd District Court.

“Your honor, this is the highest bond that I have ever seen in doing this for 20-plus years on a case that essentially is an alleged property crime,’’ defense attorney Josh Kuiper, who represents the son, told the court.

A visiting judge kept the bond amounts unchanged, saying the issue could be addressed in Kent County Circuit Court.

A probable cause hearing for the pair was scheduled Wednesday afternoon in Wyoming District Court.

The criminal activity came to light Jan. 13 when a Cascade Township woman said a man knocked on her door about 9:30 p.m., announcing “Door Dash delivery,’’ according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court. Moments later, she saw the man trying to pry her window open with a crowbar. He fled to a white van when she yelled at him, a detective wrote.

Additional charges were filed for an attempted break-in the same evening on Pioneer Club Drive SE in East Grand Rapids and break-ins on Tricklewood Drive SE in Cascade Township and on Wilson Avenue SW in Byron Township.

Police caught a break when a man who rented his 2018 Chrysler Pacifica to the group using a rental application told police he retrieved it because the vehicle was not where it was supposed to be, court records show. He used a GPS tracker to monitor the minivan.

“The vehicle was driving around late at night and stopping in various neighborhoods for short amounts of time,’’ a detective wrote.

The owner of the Pacifica “became suspicious’’ and decided to retrieve his vehicle. Using GPS, he traced it to a hotel near US-131 in Byron Township. Inside, he found burglars’ tools, cash and other property believed to have been stolen, court records show.

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The man who police say they believe rented the vehicle is not in custody. Father and son, meanwhile, were booked into the Kent County jail on Jan. 15.

A search of their hotel room turned up “a large amount of cash, jewelry and collectible coins,’’ court records show.

Police from multiple agencies compared notes, linking the pair to crimes elsewhere in Kent County, including in the city of Wyoming.

Father and son were charged in Wyoming District Court with three felonies, including a larceny from a home on Ivanrest Avenue SW in which a pill bottle and money was taken, court records show.

“Jason Frank and Cody Frank committed multiple larcenies from residences through the city of Wyoming and Kent County,’’ a Wyoming officer wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

“While in Wyoming, they tricked three residents into believing they were providing a service and while Jason distracted them, Cody, with the assistance of a third suspect, rummaged through the residences and stole items from the homes,’’ the officer wrote.

“In one of the houses, they entered without permission and stole from the elderly homeowner,’’ court records show.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and extends beyond Michigan.

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