Harper Woods officers identify two suspects in recent string of burglaries

By: Alex Tekip | Advertiser Times | Published May 4, 2016

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HARPER WOODS — At 9:45 a.m. March 31, Harper Woods public safety officers were dispatched to the 18900 block of Kingsville to investigate a burglary in progress, according to a press release issued by Public Safety Director Jim Burke. 

According to the release, when officers arrived, they located two suspects breaking into a vacant home and attempting to steal hot water tanks, furnaces and copper pipes. The suspects ran from the scene and were found and arrested minutes later, police said. Officers were also able to locate the suspects’ getaway vehicle, in which officers reportedly found a stolen water tank from an earlier burglary in Detroit. 

“Generally, these types of thieves are very particular,” said Burke. “They don’t want to go into an occupied house. They don’t want to deal with someone being home or where someone’s actually living. They’re just crimes of opportunity where they go and they take them right over to Detroit and take them to the scrap yards and get a quick few dollars for it.”

 The two suspects were identified as 31-year-old Jevon Keith Thomas and 18-year-old Lamont Robinson, both of Detroit. Thomas and Robinson are cousins. 

On April 1, Thomas and Robinson were arraigned and charged in 32-A District Court with breaking into a vacant dwelling and resisting/obstructing a police officer. Thomas’ bond was set at $1,500. 

In his April 6 pretrial, Thomas pleaded guilty to entering without an owner’s permission. Charges of furnishing false identification and resisting arrest were dismissed. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 55 days concurrent with the sentence and 35 days held. He remains in custody. 

In addition, Thomas was sentenced to nine months of probation, the terms of which include staying off the property he entered without permission and having no contact with Robinson. Thomas also was fined $755. If Thomas violates the conditions of his probation, he would spend the additional 35 days in jail.   

Robinson’s pretrial took place on April 27. As of that date, there was no public record on his case. 

According to the release, the Harper Woods Public Safety Department believes Thomas and Robinson were responsible for multiple burglaries of vacant homes that had been occurring in recent weeks in the southwest area of the city.

Burke said the area between Woodside and Kingsville has a higher concentration of vacant homes than other areas of the city. He said the majority of vacant-home burglaries happen between Woodside and Kingsville, and between Harper and Kelly, during the day. 

“Every year, we make dozens of arrests on these types of things,” he said. “They’re usually daytime situations because there’s no power on the house. The people that are doing this don’t want to be seen with flashlights and things. … They’ll pull right up in the driveway with a truck, try and get in and out as fast as they can.”

According to the release, three more homes, including two occupied residences, were broken into since Thomas and Robinson had been in custody. Officers were continuing to search for additional suspects in the recent string of burglaries. 

Residents are advised to contact the Department of Public Safety immediately at 911 if they see suspicious or unfamiliar people or vehicles in their neighborhoods.  

Burke encouraged residents to watch their own neighborhoods and to not be shy if they see something out of the ordinary. He said officers have solved cases of vacant-home burglaries thanks to tips from residents who saw things they thought were suspicious.  

“Even if it turns out it’s a new owner or a new landlord just getting the house ready, we’d much rather respond and check it out and make sure it’s OK,” Burke said.

“It does have a negative effect on the whole neighborhood, and that’s why we’re very vigilant on it.”