Homeless man arrested after breaking into building for shelter

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published February 16, 2024


HAZEL PARK — A man living on the street faces criminal charges after he reportedly broke into a local business seeking refuge from the cold.

Maurice Jenkins, 39, formerly of Detroit, was arraigned Jan. 28 in a Zoom call with Erika Morgan, magistrate of the 43rd District Court in Hazel Park. The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has charged him with one count of breaking and entering with intent, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. At press time, he was being held in the county jail on a $10,000 cash bond.

The incident occurred around midnight Jan. 26 at Ideation Orange, a graphic design and production company located at 420 W. Nine Mile Road in Hazel Park.

Police responded to an alarm at the location and arrived to find Jenkins sheltering inside, allegedly waiting for them.

He had reportedly broken the glass on both the front door and a second door in the vestibule to gain entry. He did not resist arrest and no drugs or weapons were found in his possession.

Jenkins allegedly confessed to using a brick found on the street to shatter the windows. He also reportedly told police that he broke into the building so that the police would take him out of the cold and into custody someplace warm. The officers believed him.

Jenkins also allegedly told the officers that he had rifled through the contents of the business looking for anything of value but found nothing he felt like taking.

“He was trying to find money or other things to steal,” said Brian Buchholz, the police chief of Hazel Park. “Many times, suspects give excuses to try and lessen their own guilt. But why should the victim have to suffer the costs of having to replace the expensive doors, having to temporarily board up the doors?”

The chief said it appears Jenkins has been homeless since late summer. Jenkins also has a prior conviction for breaking and entering in Madison Heights in 2008.

“There are many shelters. However, they could be full, or have certain parameters that need to be met before they may be considered for shelter,” Buchholz said. “We still encourage those that are willing to use available resources to come in (to the police station) rather than commit crimes in hopes of going to jail. We don’t like anyone to be victimized.”

Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park, said the Hazel Park police are willing to help.

“In the past, our police have even driven people to shelters,” Klobucher said. “The individual who broke into the business caused extensive property damage. According to his own statements, he also considered theft, but he found nothing he wanted to take. Breaking and entering is a crime that can create very dangerous situations. There are many other options for shelter.”

Jenkins’ attorney, Neal Brand, declined to comment on the case, but he did share some thoughts on the larger issue facing the nation.

“We have a bad drug abuse and homelessness problem we need to deal with in this country, because it’s leading people to feel they have very few options but to commit crimes in order to deal with what they’re facing,” Brand said. “There are no easy answers. Drug abuse is something that transcends all economic and educational statuses. The only thing I’ve seen work helping clients deal with addiction is the one-day-at-a-time approach, with accountability. You need the mentoring and support groups, and being accountable to another person. But when you’re dealing with people who’ve abandoned their own kids getting high and losing custody, not even accountable to their own flesh they’ve produced — well, it’s a nasty problem.”