Royal Oak police arrest suspect for larceny from vehicles, obstructing police

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 22, 2021




ROYAL OAK/BERKLEY — At approximately 5 a.m. Nov. 10, Royal Oak police responded to a report of a suspicious person inside the caller’s vehicle in the the 2000 block of Woodland Avenue, north of 12 Mile Road.

The caller stated that the suspect took her backpack from her vehicle, and she last saw him walking southbound on Woodland Avenue.

Responding officers located a suspect matching the description who was in possession of the caller’s stolen backpack, along with a large amount of loose change and dollar bills, according to the police report.

The suspect, who gave officers a false name, was also in possession of stolen property belonging to other vehicles in the area, according to the report.

Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Unit, said police believe the suspect is responsible for similar crimes in other jurisdictions, including Berkley.

Police arrested the 38-year-old Pontiac resident for larcenies from vehicles and obstructing police.

On Nov. 12, 44th District Court Magistrate Nancy Orletski arraigned Matthew Nathaniel Phenix, of Pontiac, on four counts of receiving and concealing stolen property, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; one count of possession of a stolen financial transaction device, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison; one count of breaking and entering of a vehicle, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail; and one count of receiving and concealing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, according to police.

Carter said Phenix was on parole at the time of his arrest for an incident of first-degree home invasion, third-degree fleeing and eluding, and unlawfully driving away an automobile in the city of Royal Oak in 2010.

His convictions include felony armed robbery, felony unarmed robbery, third-degree fleeing and eluding, and receiving and concealing stolen property, police said.

Orletski set Phenix’s bond at $100,000 cash, no 10%, with the condition of a GPS tether if bond was posted. His next court appearance was set for Nov. 19, before 44th District Court Judge Jamie Wittenberg, which occurred after press time..

According to the 44th District Court’s website, Phenix did not have an attorney on record as of press time.

“He’s a dangerous man who was taken off the street,” Carter said. “The officers did a great job.”

In Berkley, police believe Phenix is responsible for a string of incidents that occurred in the area of Princeton and Columbia roads, near Woodward Avenue, during the late evening hours of Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, in which an unknown suspect stole from unlocked vehicles.

Stolen items included personal information, wallets, cash and laptops, according to police.

“We want to thank Royal Oak Police Officers and Detectives, and the residents for staying vigilant and helping us identify and catch this suspect,” a Berkley police statement reads. “Thieves look for easy targets.”

Royal Oak police published a list of tips for preventing larcenies from vehicles and advised residents to be proactive, watch out for their neighbors, and report suspicious persons or activity immediately.

Tips include: always lock vehicles and keep windows closed, and park in the garage or a well-lit area; avoid parking near walls, fences or foliage; avoid leaving valuables, such as loose currency, laptops, cellphones and purses, in cars; hide valuables that must be left in the vehicle in the trunk, cargo area or under the seats; do not keep important paperwork, such as the car title, inside the vehicle; do not leave keys in the ignition or the key fob inside the vehicle; and install a car alarm and ensure it is activated.

“A vast amount of these thefts occurs at night; however, they do occur anytime the opportunity presents itself,” the release states.

To report instances of larceny from a vehicle, contact the Royal Oak Police Department at (248) 246-3500 or the Berkley Public Safety Department at (248) 658-3380.

Staff Writer Michael Koury contributed to this report.