Bibliophile burglar sought in antique book theft

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 9, 2013

Police said whoever broke into a home in the first block of Elm Court between 6:45 p.m. and 11:10 p.m. July 6 appears to have been getting ready to grab a bite to eat before leaving.

According to a police report, the unknown suspect stole five to seven antique books from a living room shelf and left food from the refrigerator sitting out. Police said the food, placed atop a kitchen island, was still cold to the touch when they arrived on the scene, and they found a sausage link lying on the floor near the front door.

Detective Lt. Richard Rosati said the suspect left behind a Kindle, credit cards and other valuables that were sitting nearby in favor of the books.

“It’s just not at all your typical home invasion,” he said. “What was taken and what was left behind was unusual.”

Rosati said this is the first time in his career that he’s ever handled a home invasion involving the theft of antique books.

The 23-year-old daughter of the homeowner said she had been dog sitting for her parents while they were out of town. When she returned to the house that evening, she said the side door leading from the garage into the home was left open, and when she entered the home, she said she noticed items had been disturbed and called police. Police said they also discovered a broken window screen leading from the back patio to the living room.

Police said they found a small mink vest that had been taken out of a closet lying on the kitchen floor near the sliding door. A camelback backpack that had been removed from a bag in the living room was discovered next to the vest.

Only a few days before the home invasion, the residents told police they had been contacted via flier by a film production crew scouting locations for an upcoming movie. The residents said they spoke to a 43-year-old Beverly Hills man in conjunction with this, and the man came to the house and, with the homeowners’ permission, took photos inside and outside. At press time, Rosati said the man with the film company checked out as legitimate and has been cleared as a possible suspect for the moment, but that could change if police uncover additional evidence that would lead them to believe he might still have been involved in the crime.

Police said they recovered a hat at the scene that is believed to have been left behind by the suspect. They also collected a silver plate that had been moved and may yield fingerprints.

While police were still at the scene conducting their investigation around 11:19 p.m. July 6, they said they were approached by a 65-year-old Harper Woods man who heard about the home invasion on his police scanner and raced to the scene to check on the house next door, for which he is a key-holder. The Harper Woods man said the neighboring house turned out to still be secure, but as he was leaving the area, he spotted an unknown man walking east on Lake Shore near Sunset Lane.

Police quickly caught up with the unknown man, who turned out to be a 52-year-old who said he had just taken a bus to Detroit from Demopolis, Ala., within the last three to four days and had been homeless during that time. However, police said the Alabama man — who had a criminal record in Michigan for burglary — was wearing clean, dry clothes and shoes, which wouldn’t have been the case if he had been living on the streets for the last several days. Because of what police said were his “rambling, unclear answers to the officer’s questions and his proximity” to the crime scene, police took the Alabama man into custody.

But he, too, was cleared, said Rosati. After extensive interrogation and not finding any of the books on the Alabama man or dropped anywhere in the neighborhood, “We came to believe he really didn’t do it,” said Rosati, who added that the man was released “pending further investigation.”

“We’re continuing to look into it,” he said of the home invasion. “We hope to develop a suspect soon.”

Anyone with more information about this incident can call Farms public safety at (313) 885-2100.