Suspected sprinkler valve thief’s case postponed

By: Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 19, 2013

Stephen Mispelon

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The man accused of hitting a police officer with his car after he was caught allegedly stealing the control valves from a resident’s sprinkler system will not appear in court again until August, following the adjournment of his preliminary examination.

Stephen Mispelon, 26, of Macomb Township, was in attendance June 11 for his pre-exam at 41-A District Court in Shelby Township. However, according to court officials, Judge Douglas P. Shepherd adjourned the case until Aug. 1 because Mispelon had substituted a new attorney, Cecil St. Pierre, and because a new charge had been introduced.

Mispelon was originally arraigned on charges of assault to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony; fleeing and eluding police in the third degree, a five-year felony; and larceny less than $200, a 93-day misdemeanor. But court officials stated that one count of malicious destruction of a building, a one-year misdemeanor, was added to Mispelon’s case June 11.

In the early morning hours of May 28, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call from a Macomb Township resident who said that someone was attempting to steal something from outside her home, near 22 Mile and Romeo Plank roads. Patrol cars were dispatched to the scene, and the first deputy to arrive saw Mispelon walking on a nearby street, according to police. The officer got out of his car and approached the suspect, ordering him to stop.

According to Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Mispelon ran over to a car that was parked on the street and sped away, striking the deputy with his car in the process. The deputy fired two gunshots at the fleeing vehicle, one of which hit Mispelon in the arm and penetrated straight through.

Mispelon drove to another nearby subdivision as deputies chased him through the residential streets. The pursuit ended when Mispelon crashed his car into a sheriff’s K-9 vehicle near Mohawk Elementary School, Wickersham said. Mispelon was arrested and taken into custody without further incident.

The deputy who was struck by Mispelon’s car — a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department — was sent to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township and was treated for minor injuries. Wickersham indicated that the deputy has fully recovered from the crash and is now back to work.

Wickersham also pointed out that the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office later conducted an investigation to determine whether the deputy was justified in firing his weapon, and “they determined that he was not at fault because he was acting in self-defense.”

The sheriff said he believes that Mispelon had been trying to steal the control valves from the resident’s sprinkler system but was caught in the act. At the time of Mispelon’s arrest, he noted that in recent weeks, the Sheriff’s Department had been investigating numerous reports of stolen valves across Macomb County, as there had been at least 40 complaints of such thefts over the previous month alone.

Although Wickersham suspects that Mispelon may have been responsible for some — if not all — of those prior incidents, there is currently not enough evidence to bring more charges against him. “We’ve only been able to connect him with about four other thefts,” Wickersham said, “but he has not been charged with anything else at this time.”

The sheriff previously indicated that Mispelon may have been attempting to steal sprinkler valves in order to strip out the metal and sell it to scrap yards. “At this point,” Wickersham said, “we really have no idea what his motive was.”

St. Pierre could not be reached for comment by press time.