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Dowagiac utility bills potentially missing after vandalism/theft

DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- If you dropped off a utility bill at the drive-by deposit box in downtown Dowagiac last weekend, you’ll want to call city hall to make sure your payment was received.

In the alley between Commercial and Main streets in Dowagiac, you’ll find a community mail drop.

But on Monday morning, a worker found the scene of a crime.

“When our utility worker came here to collect from the box, get everything that was in our utility deposit box, we found that it had been broken into,” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson.

Now you’ll only find a few bolts where the box once sat; it’s being repaired by a local welder after it was tampered with.

Anderson said the break-in happened sometime between the morning of Friday, August 4 and the morning of Monday, August 7.

“We have no real way to tell how much was in there, how many envelopes were in there,” said Dowagiac Police Chief Steve Grinnewald. “We do know that there wasn’t much there when we got there.”

Cars cruise through the alley all hours of the day.

May Dahlke lives across the street and uses the drop box herself.

She said it’s a convenient and popular spot.

“My husband and I are always saying it’s amazing how much – how often cars drive in there,” she said.

The nearby bank has security cameras, but Grinnewald said it’s not yet known if they captured the act.

Anderson said the drop box has been in this location for at least 20 years, and without incident.

He said it will return – likely by the end of the week – but people can also pay their bill online, through their bank, or they can deposit it in a drop-slot that’s built into the entrance of city hall.

“We’ve had coin-operated things throughout town that, from time to time, do get broken into,” Grinnewald said. “But to my knowledge, nothing like this.”

Grinnewald said his department has no suspects yet, but they are actively investigating.

This week happens to be the cutoff period for utility bills in Dowagiac, so Anderson said it’s important that anyone who dropped off a bill in the deposit box between this past Friday and Monday call city hall to make sure your payment has been received.

The number for Dowagiac City Hall is 269-782-2195.

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