Local police looking for patterns in thefts from vehicles

Officials advise residents to lock vehicles, park in garage

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published September 7, 2016

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WEST BLOOMFIELD/FARMINGTON HILLS — Local law enforcement agencies are collaborating to determine if recent thefts from vehicles in West Bloomfield, Farmington Hills and Novi were perpetuated by the same suspect.

West Bloomfield Deputy Police Chief Curt Lawson said there has been a “substantial increase” in people entering unlocked vehicles in the last month. 

“We’ve had nine different vehicles broken into on the south end of the township in the past seven days,” Lawson said on Aug. 29, referring to the area of 14 Mile and Middlebelt roads.

While West Bloomfield police are working with other local departments, as of press time, detectives were not able to report if the thefts came at the hands of the same or different suspects. 

“These individuals are looking for things of value. They’re looking for cellphones, purses (or) credit cards — things they can turn into cash quickly,” Lawson said. “The ones we’ve been seeing consistently on the south end have been unlocked vehicles. People who do the stealing prefer the vehicles unlocked because if they break a window, that causes a noise and brings attention to themselves.”

In addition to the nine thefts from vehicles, on Aug. 19 and 25, several West Bloomfield residents reported their cars stolen from their homes. In each case, the vehicles were left unlocked with the keys inside.  

Farmington Hills Assistant Police Chief Matt Koehn told C & G Newspapers Aug. 24 that from Aug. 14 to 15, several unlocked cars parked in the area of 12 Mile and Farmington roads had items stolen. Unknown suspects also stole items from nine vehicles parked on Green Willow Street, and New Castle, Thorny Brae and Hawberry roads. 

The vehicles were left unlocked in all of the thefts, Koehn told C & G.

Additional thefts from unlocked vehicles were reported in the area of 14 Mile and Haggerty roads, and the Middlebelt Road and I-696 area that same weekend.

Lawson said residents should park vehicles in a garage and lock any door on the house. If a garage is unavailable, people should park their cars in a well-lit area and lock their vehicles. Items should not be left in a vehicle parked outside. 

Although Lawson said thieves commonly look for unlocked vehicles, there have been instances in the township where suspects have broken a window to enter a vehicle. 

Guns should never be left in a vehicle — locked or unlocked.

“Placing your handgun under your car seat or in the center console or the glove compartment is not a proper way to secure your loaded firearm. We’ve seen time and time again where weapons have been stolen from cars even here in West Bloomfield,” Lawson said. 

West Bloomfield Lt. Mark Stout, who teaches concealed pistol license classes in West Bloomfield, advised gun owners to not leave firearms in a car; however, he said that if they choose to do so, then gun owners should consider purchasing a vehicle-based gun safe.

“Vehicles left outside, even if it’s locked, to leave a firearm in an easily accessible place like under a seat or a glove box, I think it’s problematic,” he said. 

Residents should report any larceny from a vehicle immediately. When an officer arrives at the scene, he or she will interview the victim. If tangible evidence is found — for example, a can or a cigarette — that could lead to finding a possible suspect, and an evidence technician will be dispatched to the scene, Lawson said. With the recent spike in larcenies from vehicles in the three communities, detectives are “for the most part” looking for patterns, he added. 

The investigations are ongoing. To report a larceny from a vehicle in the West Bloomfield area, call (248) 975-9200. 

Staff Writer Sherri Kolade contributed to this report.