Two teens charged in cellphone theft spree

By: Jessica Strachan | Farmington Press | Published June 19, 2013


Two teens from Farmington Hills have been charged with multiple counts of unarmed robbery in connection with a recent surge in cellphone thefts around the city.

Claude Lewis and Harold Clay, both 17, were arraigned in 47th District Court June 8 ­­by Magistrate Michael Sawicky.

Lewis was charged with three counts of unarmed robbery and two counts of larceny from a person. Clay was also charged with two counts of larceny from a person. Both were charged as adults.

Bond for Lewis was set at $50,000 or 10 percent surety, and at $10,000 or 10 percent surety for Clay. Both teens will return to the 47th District Court for the preliminary exam hearing June 17, according to court clerks, where they will go before Judge James Brady.

The two suspects were apprehended last week after authorities sent out a public alert about a rise in cellphone thefts — what Farmington Hills Cmdr. Matt Koehn said is actually a national trend right now.

Residents in Farmington Hills fell victim to eight different theft incidents, he explained, between May 24 and June 6, the day the press release was issued.

“Putting the pieces together between the eight cases, we were able to identify two suspects. We are also looking at other people being involved,” Koehn said last week. “It really is a national trend, but in this case, these suspects were working together.”

Lewis and Clay are suspected of sparking simple conversation with their intended victims before grabbing the phone and fleeing in a nearby vehicle.

It was officers from the South Oakland Narcotics Intelligence Consortium, along with the Farmington Hills Police Directed Patrol Unit, who tracked down the suspects June 6 and took them into custody. Koehn said that there is a warrant out for a third suspect still being sought.

“Based on the information from witnesses at several of the incidents, we believe we’ve got two of the suspects responsible and that there’s at least one other person involved,” he said, adding that since the arrests, no more cellphone-theft incidents have occurred in the city.

An investigation into the third suspect is ongoing.

According to court files, Lewis has requested a court-appointed attorney and Clay will be represented by Lois Collins, who could not be reached for comment.

Anyone with information regarding the recent local theft incidents is asked to call the Farmington Hills Police Department Command Desk at (248) 871-2610.

Farmington Hills Police Chief Charles Nebus offers these safety tips for people to keep in mind:

• Don’t hand your phone to anyone you don’t know.

• Keep your phone in a secure place when in public.

• Be aware of your surroundings and people approaching you while you use your phone.

• If you see suspicious activity, call 911 immediately.