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Vehicle thefts on the rise in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- There is a warning out for drivers in West Michigan; don't leave your cars unlocked.  Grand Rapids Police say auto thefts are on the rise in 2010.

On Wednesday afternoon investigators showed the news media just how easy it was to find targets at a downtown parking lot.  "The interesting thing about this car is, it's open," says Lt. Ralph Mason.

Auto thefts had been on the decline for the past 14 years.  "But, for the first six months of this year, the thefts have gone up 26.6%.  We're not exactly sure why," says Sgt. Stan Lis.

The other problem is drivers leaving valuables inside their vehicles.  Items like iPods, computers, and GPS systems are common stolen items.  "Someone will grab a rock.  Anything to break the window, get in the car and steal whatever they can. And they're gone," says Mason.

Residents in area hit by 'suspicious fires' terrified of possible arsons

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Residents living in the general Ridgmoor Neighborhood area are living in fear.

Investigators are calling the fires "suspicious," residents are calling the fires arson.

"It just doesn't seem like a coincidence," said neighbor Edlonda Ulsh who lives next door to the most recent fire.  "This is my home, everything that I've put my heart and soul into.  In an instant, it could have been gone."

For about a month, there have been six fires started in the garages of homes on the line between Grand Rapids and Kentwood.

"You're not really safe in your own neighborhood," said neighbor Rodell Beasley.  "People are losing their property, people are getting fed up over it."

The fires are concentrated in neighborhoods generally north of 28th Street, in an area between East Paris and Breton Ave. Firefighters are called to the scene at times between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Residents in area hit by 'suspicious fires' terrified of possible arsons

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM)- Residents living in the general Ridgmoor Neighborhood area are living in fear.

Investigators are calling the fires "suspicious," residents are calling the fires arson.

"It just doesn't seem like a coincidence," said neighbor Edlonda Ulsh who lives next door to the most recent fire.  "This is my home, everything that I've put my heart and soul into.  In an instant, it could have been gone."

For about a month, there have been six fires started in the garages of homes on the line between Grand Rapids and Kentwood.

"You're not really safe in your own neighborhood," said neighbor Rodell Beasley.  "People are losing their property, people are getting fed up over it."

The fires are concentrated in neighborhoods generally north of 28th Street, in an area between East Paris and Breton Ave. Firefighters are called to the scene at times between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Grand Rapids man calls arsons attempted murder

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A resident of a Grand Rapids duplex says the fire that destroyed his building's garage was not just arson, it was attempted murder.

"If I did not wake up when I did,  people would have died," says resident Kemal Hamulic.

The fire in Hamulic's duplex on Mulford Drive early Wednesday was the sixth in a series of seven suspected garage arsons in the past month.  All of the fires have taken place in his neighborhood near the Woodland Mall.

The fire at his home was especially serious because the flames were spreading from the garage to the duplex where five children and four adults were sleeping. Hamulic says he was awakened by the sound of vinyl siding melting from the heat.

"I could see the top of the garage was on fire so I yelled to my wife to get our child and get out, and I went to the neighbors and pounded on the door to tell them it was on fire," he says.

Recycling and Education Center dedicated in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Kent County leaders hope a new, advanced plant will encourage more people to recycle.  City and county leaders dedicated the new Recycling and Education Center in Grand Rapids Friday.  The Wealthy Street facility is located on the same site that was once home to the Applied Arts stamping plant.

The center can handle more than double the materials than the former recycling site. Residents who use the site do not need to sort their recyclables.

Aquinas College students volunteer for Project Unite

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- College freshmen opened their hears before their school books by performing community service projects Friday.  500 new students at Aquinas College are taking part in the volunteer program as part of their orientation.  The service program is called Project Unite.

Eric Bridge with Aquinas College said the students served at 13 sites around the community doing "everything from landscaping projects to working for Kids Food Basket."

This is the 17th year for Project Unite.  The new students also performed service projects on the Aquinas campus and work for ArtPrize.

New immunization requirements for Michigan children

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM)- This year children heading back to Michigan schools will have new immunization requirements. 11-year-olds need a meningitis and a whooping cough vaccine. You also need those shots if you're 11 or older, and changing school districts.

Lisa Newton knows back to school shopping all too well, she has ten children about to start the year. But this summer, Newton's to do list is growing as her kids will need extra vaccines to meet state guidelines.

Newton says, "We do have some more going into high school this year so we'll make sure they get the meningitis."

Many like Newton are making appointments at local health departments, but Kent County immunization supervisor Mary Wisinski says some residents are confused about the 6th grade requirements.

"The confusing thing for moms I believe is some 10-year olds starting 6th grade, but those kids are okay until they turn 11 years of age"