Larceny occurs after man falsely claims to be township employee

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 22, 2015


On May 8, Shelby Township police received a call about a larceny from a home on Kramer Drive, near 21 Mile and Schoenherr roads, following a visit from a man who said he was with “a water department” and that he needed to check the residents’ water for “poison.”

Police said the homeowners, a couple in their 80s, let the man inside their home, and he instructed them to follow him around the residence as he relayed his location to someone via his cellphone.

The group traveled to the basement of the home and, after the man had left, the couple realized they were missing approximately $10,000 in mostly jewelry and some cash.

Detective Lt. Jason Schmittler, of the Shelby Township Police Department, said the suspect likely kept the couple distracted in the basement while an accomplice took the valuables from upstairs.

“(This kind of crime) is sneaky, mean and it has happened in the past, but this is the first we’ve had it happen this year, so we’re trying to get the message out,” Schmittler said. “Usually, they don’t hit too many places. They make their selection and get out.”

Shelby Township Department of Public Works Director David Miller said genuine employees with the department carry township identification cards, travel in marked township vehicles, and wear blue or high-visibility yellow uniforms with the township emblem on them.

Even if there is a problem with the water, Miller said DPW employees can do testing from outside, and if they do have to go inside, they always set up an appointment.

“I recommend they call the DPW and don’t rely on a number that whoever is there gives them, because it could just be a friend out in the truck or whatever,” Miller said.

Schmittler advised that residents lock up their valuables and do not let strangers into their homes.

The phone number for the Shelby Township DPW is (586) 731-5990.

The couple described the suspect as a white man, approximately 50 years old, who had short black hair and dressed neatly in a red button-up shirt and dark pants.

Shelby Township police ask that anyone with information related to the larceny case call the Detective Bureau at (586) 731-2121, ext. 2.