Second January home invasion under investigation in Shores

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 23, 2013

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — 2013 hasn’t been a good year so far for snowbirds and people who leave town for the holidays.

For a city where break-ins are rare, to have two in a single month is almost unprecedented. But that’s what appears to have happened.

Shortly after a break-in at a house on Regal, which took place between Jan. 2-5, an unknown suspect or suspects are said to have committed a nearly identical crime in the first block of Stillmeadow. Although a police report shows that the crime wasn’t detected and reported until Jan. 11, Detective Lt. Scott Rohr said police have evidence suggesting the incident took place around 12:09 a.m. Jan. 6. As was the case at the Regal residence, the homeowners were out of town and the home appeared “obviously vacant,” Rohr said, with uncleared snow on the sidewalk and driveway.

“I believe they’re related,” Rohr said of the two home invasions, noting a similarity in what was taken — mostly portable items that could easily be carried out without attracting attention — and how the homes were disturbed. Although a complete list of missing items hadn’t been finalized at press time, Rohr said it didn’t appear that the crooks took much.

According to a police report, a DTE Energy worker in the area called police after he noticed that a door had been left open. Police said the suspects apparently used a landscaping brick — found nearby on the ground — to break into a side door by smashing out a glass window. The suspects are said to have gone through the house, dumping drawers on the floor in their search for small valuables.

The report indicates that police were able to collect a partial fingerprint that was left on a home stereo unit, and surveillance footage from a neighbor’s security camera system may provide more information about the suspects.

Public Safety Director John Schulte is asking residents to let the Public Safety Department know if they’re leaving town, and to take other precautions to discourage crooks from targeting their homes. Residents should also provide police with the name of a contact person in case something happens, he said. Residents are asked to either stop mail and newspaper delivery or make sure someone can pick up those items daily. Out-of-town residents should use programmable interior and exterior lights, and with interior lights in particular, they should change the times they go on and off each day, to “make the home look as occupied as possible,” Schulte said. Residents should have a friend or relative check on their home regularly, as well.

“The most important thing is that it’s checked,” Schulte said.

Residents who have alarms should make sure those are set before they leave, too, and reasonably priced video surveillance equipment is available for those who want to take that extra precaution. Schulte said residents who are having trouble setting their alarm systems should contact their alarm company, and the Public Safety Department is willing to help, if they’re able.

Anyone who’s going to be leaving town should call the Public Safety Department at (313) 881-5500 and ask the dispatcher that they be transferred to the Shores supervisor. Schulte said the department keeps a “watch list” of all vacant properties in the city, so that officers can pay particular attention to those.

Residents are also asked to immediately report any suspicious activity they notice in their neighborhood, Schulte said. Such calls are not considered a nuisance by the department, and could help prevent a crime from occurring.

Anyone wishing to report suspicious behavior in the area, or anyone with more information about either of the home invasions, can call (313) 881-5500.