Police search for clues after wave of auto break-ins

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 23, 2018

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Sterling Heights police are tuning in to anyone with information on who is causing a recent spike in vehicle break-ins in which radios and navigation systems have been stolen.

Large-scale thefts of the vehicle parts reportedly happened between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 at Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, which is located in the 38000 block of Van Dyke Avenue, near 18 Mile Road.

According to a manager, the culprit or culprits smashed the rear windows of more than 40 Jeep Compass vehicles, and the radios were swiped from 26 of those vehicles.

In addition, on Jan. 9, navigation units or radios were reportedly stolen from:

• A vehicle at a business in the 36000 block of Metro Court, near Metropolitan Parkway and Mound Road.

• A vehicle in the 5000 block of Amberwood Drive, near Metropolitan Parkway and Mound Road.

• A rental vehicle near a restaurant in the 40000 block of Van Dyke Avenue, near 18 Mile Road.

• A vehicle parked at a gym in the 44000 block of Mound Road.

• A vehicle parked behind a go-karting facility on Van Dyke Avenue.

• A vehicle parked at a Walmart lot near Mound Road and M-59.

Most of the time, the thief or thieves had to break a vehicle window to gain access to the components, police said.

More vehicle break-in incidents happened afterward — including a navigation system theft that reportedly occurred the morning of Jan. 11 at an apartment complex in the 13000 block of Northside Drive, near 14 Mile and Schoenherr roads. Two work vans had their windows broken Jan. 10 or 11 in the 34000 block of Esper Drive, near 15 Mile Road and Maple Lane Drive, but nothing was reported stolen, police said.

Sterling Heights Police Department Lt. Mario Bastianelli could not confirm what types of vehicle models were broken into within the neighborhoods, nor could he confirm whether more than one suspect is behind the recent auto break-ins.

“We do not have any suspect identification at this time,” he said.

While equipping a vehicle with an alarm might serve as a deterrent, Bastianelli said these radio and navigation unit thefts are often hard to avoid.

“They smash out the windows, so there is not a whole lot you can do with that,” he said. “Keep your doors locked at all times. ... If people have to smash out windows, it brings a lot of attention to what they’re doing.”

A representative from Sterling Heights Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram declined to comment about the recent radio thefts.

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