Police on the lookout for fake feds

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 9, 2014

Federal and local law enforcement members are working to identify people who allegedly impersonated federal agents on two different occasions in Sterling Heights.

Police say the first incident happened at around 6:45 a.m. April 28 in the 3000 block of Cherry Creek Lane. A resident reportedly let two male suspects wearing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparel enter the home after the suspects called themselves agents of the federal agency.

The suspects allegedly said they had a search warrant, but they didn’t show any relevant identification or paperwork. Police said the suspects took cellphones, money and a handgun from the home.

Police describe the first male suspect as white and “possibly of Middle Eastern descent.” He was described as 5 feet 8 inches tall and around 150 pounds. He was reportedly unshaven, and he was dressed in black jeans, a black baseball cap and a black T-shirt inscribed with the acronym “ATF.”

The second suspect was described as a white male who had short brown hair and was also unshaven. Police said the suspect was 6 feet tall and had a large build.

He was reportedly dressed in a black zip-up jacket with an unidentified logo on it, black jeans and a black baseball cap inscribed with “ATF.” He allegedly had a handgun in a belt holster.

Police said a third person, a large white female with dark hair, was near the suspects’ vehicle. The vehicle was described as a white SUV that resembled a GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Suburban.

In the second incident, police said three suspects targeted a home in the 37000 block of Hacker at around 5:45 a.m. May 6.

Police said the resident let three men enter who reportedly indicated that they were FBI agents. The suspects allegedly said they were trying to find a relative of the homeowners.

But the men left the home and entered a black SUV that resembled a Cadillac Escalade after the homeowner told one of the suspects that he appeared to be familiar, according to police.

Police said the three suspects were clothed in black T-shirts with “FBI” written on them, black jeans, black gloves, unidentified belt badges and black knit hats. Two of the men reportedly had long guns on them, police said.

A police-issued description says two of the men were white males, “possibly of Middle Eastern descent,” who were about 6 feet tall and 225 pounds. One of the suspects had red hair and a black beard, while the other one reportedly had black hair, police said.

The third suspect was described by police as a white male “possibly of Middle Eastern descent,” of medium stature and build.

According to Sterling Heights Police Lt. Luke Riley, the motives in the two incidents appear to be different, and while both incidents share similarities, there are a lot of differences, also.

Riley said residents should call police if they encounter someone who seems suspicious and claims to be a federal agent.

“If a resident has any suspicion about it, they can call their local law enforcement,” Riley said. “We will come out and verify that, if necessary.”

A representative from the FBI in Detroit who declined to identify himself said federal agents typically don’t come to people’s homes unannounced. But if someone approaches the door identifying themselves as an agent, a resident should get the agent’s name and not open the door until the resident calls the federal office and confirms the agent’s identity.

“(The agent) should be more than willing to identify himself,” the FBI representative said. “They should have credentials and should be tolerant and expect the homeowner to verify their identity.”

Anyone who has more information about these incidents should call the Sterling Heights Police Department at (586) 446-2800.