Security cameras help get missing life ring returned

People photographed in beach parking lot with rescue ring.
This image from a Laketown Township security camera shows a person on the left with what the township says is its rescue ring from the beach on Thursday, June 27, 2024. Faces have been purposely blocked out.

The rescue ring that was reported missing last week from Laketown Township Beach has been recovered thanks to security cameras at the beach.

The person or people linked to the removal of the water safety device are under investigation by the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office. A person or people also attempted to remove or damage a handicapped-accessible parking sign.

More details are not available because the incident remains under investigation.

The township is pursuing charges.

Missing ring

The orange life ring with the words “Laketown Twp” stenciled on it was not at its station Thursday morning, June 27, 2024.  The ring was in place on a post with rip current warning signs on Wednesday, June 26.

A new ring was in place by the weekend.

The cameras at beach caught the person or people believed to have taken the ring from the beach carrying it at one point around their neck early Thursday morning. The camera captured the vehicle’s license plate and law enforcement was notified.

The people captured on camera were in the park possibly late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. The park closes at dusk and opens at dawn.

A deputy returned the life ring to the township hall on Friday, June 28.

Most township-owned property has cameras with recording ability. The goal is to have cameras at all township property, according to Township Manager Al Meshkin.

The rescue ring was installed this season on May 23. It has been a fixture at the beach since 2023.

The life ring at Laketown Township Baech on Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Beach safety

The Laketown Township Parks and Recreation Commission purchased the ring and rip current warning signs in 2022.

The signs – one in English, one in Spanish — explain the dangers of rip currents and what to do in case a swimmer gets caught in one. The life ring can be used as a flotation device to help a swimmer in need.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore, according to the National Weather Service. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves. They can pull a swimmer away from shore and submerge them.

State parks and other beaches use a flag system to warn visitors of lake dangers. Laketown Beach does not have warning flags or lifeguards. Beachgoers are advised to check the National Weather Service website for lake conditions.

Visitors enjoy Laketown Township Beach earlier this summer.

About the beach

Laketown Beach, 6710 142nd Ave., has about 200 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. Entrance is free. Access requires using wooden steps and walking a steep sand dune. Parking is limited. A portable restroom is available in the parking lot. No dogs allowed.

Visitors should stay on the paths and off the fragile dunes. The township has spent more than $100,000 in the past few years to plant grass to help stabilize the dunes.