Madison police release crime stats for 2015

Chief asks residents to be aware of suspicious activity

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 9, 2016

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MADISON HEIGHTS — There was an increase in calls for service in Madison Heights in 2015, but a decrease in the number of arrests and reported crimes, according to numbers recently released by the Madison Heights Police Department.

From 2014 to 2015, calls for service rose from 25,594 to 26,112, while arrests dropped from 1,131 to 1,074 and reported crimes dropped from 2,139 to 1,873.

Certain categories saw decreases, such as home invasions (89 to 60), burglary (89 to 60), assaults (210 to 170), larceny and retail fraud (544 to 461), stolen vehicles (113 to 69), criminal sexual conduct (18 to 10), and arson (3 to 2).

Other categories saw increases, such as drug-related offenses (98 to 113), weapon offenses (21 to 29), forgery and counterfeiting (13 to 15), and embezzlement (20 to 24).

The newly appointed police chief, Corey Haines, said there have been worrying trends in the area regarding certain kinds of crimes, like scam artists targeting the vulnerable senior population.

Recently, the chief was eating at a diner when he overhead a senior talking to the server about a sweepstakes he had won for a large sum of money. When the man recognized Haines as a police officer, he asked him about crime in the city. Haines took the opportunity to inform the man about scam artists targeting seniors with lottery-style contests.

The senior asked Haines to check the sweepstakes letter he had received, and sure enough, it was a scam.

“It’s like they say: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Haines said.

Scam artists prey on seniors in a variety of ways, the chief said. They may call claiming they’re from a recognizable company and ask for personal information such as date of birth, credit card number or social security number — information you should never give out over the phone unless you called the company yourself and they say they need it.

Calling yourself is a good way to make sure they are in fact who they say they are. If they call you, don’t take their word for it — some scam artists steal mail to know what kinds of companies send you literature, and they may pretend to be with a company you know.

Alternatively, a scam artist may try distracting seniors at the door with smooth talk, while an accomplice sneaks in through the back door and raids the house looking for a purse, a checkbook, a credit card, spare cash — anything of value.

They may also appear at the door offering a service. Haines advises against opening the door if you don’t recognize the person there or if you’re not expecting a service.

On that note, the chief strongly encourages all residents to report any suspicious activity they see in the city. Take proper precautions, of course, like locking up your house and car, and parking in well-lit and well-trafficked areas when you go out shopping. But if you notice anything that seems out of place, don’t hesitate to call police and have them look into it.

“Better safe than sorry,” Haines said. “I truly want the citizens to know we’re part of this community and we want to work with them to assist whenever possible. Even if something suspicious turns out to be innocent and nothing wrong, at least we went to the area and made sure.

And even if we don’t find something, sometimes just the presence of a police car coming through the neighborhood is enough to prevent other crimes.”

Something the Police Department has been receiving calls about lately is cases involving drug trafficking and prostitution at local hotels — two crimes that can be difficult to track, but often go hand in hand, Haines said.

The department completed its hiring process in 2015, adding several officers, so that it’s now at 45 sworn officers, chief included, and the younger hires tend to conduct more self-initiated traffic stops that uncover some of the drug offenses.

“I think that’s why we’ll see an uptick in found-on-patrol offenses,” Haines said. “The new hires are very determined.”

The Madison Heights Police Department can be reached at (248) 585-2100.

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