Man charged after camera system IDs missing car

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published November 9, 2022

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HAZEL PARK — An automated camera system that scans the license plates of passing cars and identifies vehicles reported missing or wanted has led to the arrest of a suspect allegedly found in possession of a stolen car.

The suspect, Dante Wicker, 31, of Detroit, has been bound over for trial in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Wicker was originally arrested Aug. 23 for stealing a 2012 Kia Soul out of Southfield July 8. He was then arraigned the next day, Aug. 24, in Hazel Park 43rd District Court, on charges of third-degree fleeing and eluding, and receiving and concealing a stolen vehicle. Both are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. Wicker’s bond was set at $25,000 and he was released after posting 10%. At a hearing on Oct. 18, he was ordered to stand trial in circuit court.

Wicker’s attorney of record, Richard Taylor, did not return calls for comment by press time.

According to Hazel Park Police Chief Brian Buchholz, during the original incident Aug. 23, Wicker drove the stolen Kia Soul into a gas station near Eight Mile and John R roads in Hazel Park, where an officer spotted him. The officer had been following an alert from Flock Safety, the makers of an array of cameras set up around Hazel Park that automatically scan license plates and check them through a law enforcement database. 

The license plate was flagged as belonging to a stolen car. When the responding officer arrived at the scene, the suspect allegedly began speeding away before the officer could even attempt a traffic stop. The suspect reportedly drove north on Woodward Avenue into Ferndale at speeds reaching 70 mph, and also sped down side streets at speeds up to 65 mph.

The car chase was called off to avoid endangering the public. Ferndale Police then found the stolen vehicle abandoned on Leroy Street, on Woodward Avenue’s west side. A perimeter was set up and police began searching for the suspect. He was reportedly found on West Marshall Street where police say he was hiding in a backyard several blocks from where the car was abandoned.

The suspect surrendered without resistance. When questioned, Wicker allegedly did not tell police why he was in possession of the stolen vehicle.

“He did not want to speak to the police,” Buchholz said in an email.

The police chief said that the Flock Safety cameras have been a powerful asset for the city.

“The Flock cameras are a great tool to help in our investigations of many crimes,” Buchholz said. “In 70% of crimes committed, a vehicle is used.”

He also commended the officers for their work resolving the case.

“The officers did a good job of locating the vehicle. We also want to thank Ferndale Police for their assistance, as they’re always a great neighbor to have in times of need,” Buchholz said. “We are thankful the suspect was captured without him endangering any other police or civilians.”