Published July 24, 2013
Four suspects break into Speedway to steal cigarettes
By Andy Kozlowski email@example.com
Police are investigating a breaking and entering incident at the Speedway in the 32000 block of Dequindre, where four individuals in dark clothing with their faces covered stole numerous cartons of cigarettes before escaping in a minivan, as seen on video surveillance.
It appears they hit the same location twice. On July 18, police responded to an alarm and found that the Speedway’s front window had been smashed out with a brick, but no entry had been gained. Security footage showed a light-colored minivan pulling up in front of the building around 4:20 a.m., the window shattering at 4:25 a.m., and the vehicle fleeing the scene a minute later.
What appears to be the same vehicle returned that weekend. The alarm company called police about a breaking and entering in progress around 3:50 a.m. July 21. Once again, a front window was smashed open, but this time, one of the suspects got inside. He then unlocked the front door and let in the other three suspects.
The four men gathered up cigarette cartons, emptying them into large black garbage bags before exiting the building and escaping in the minivan parked by the door.
The suspects are described as follows:
• Suspect No. 1: Male, black mask, black hoodie, black gloves, black pants.
• Suspect No. 2: Male, black mask, black hoodie, black gloves, black pants.
• Suspect No. 3: Black male, light-colored shirt over face, black T-shirt, black shorts.
• Suspect No. 4: Male, black mask, gray hoodie, black gloves, light-colored jeans.
Madison Heights Police Lt. Robert Anderson said he believes the suspects were specifically targeting cigarette cartons.
“A carton of cigarettes is worth what they usually keep in the till over the night,” Anderson said. “They were grabbing as many as they could before getting out.”
The next night, July 22, it is believed the same four suspects attempted to break inside the Shell station in the 1800 block of East 11 Mile Road around 3:30 a.m., due to the presence of a brick that shattered the front window — the same modus operandi as at Speedway.
“We’re seeing much more of these organized retail crimes, which makes us believe they’re tied to gangs,” Anderson said.
He noted that the problem has become so severe that a new state law makes organized retail crime a five-year felony and/or a $5,000 fine. Several weeks prior to the Speedway incident, Madison Heights saw another organized retail crime at Costco. Last year, there was a jewelry heist at Jared’s.
“We’ve locked up and identified five people with organized crime, but it still keeps happening. They are rampant. They’re organized gangs that target the suburbs,” Anderson said. “Some of these gangs go beyond the county into other states, all the way to Florida. In this case, I suspect it’s a gang from the metro Detroit area, but these suspects may be lower-end members who are being introduced to crime, basically, and I hate to say it, but this could be a training program for them to move up to bigger things.”
Anyone with information on these or other incidents can contact Madison Heights detectives at (248) 585-2100.