Security personnel monitor the 17 Mile Road entrance to the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

Security personnel monitor the 17 Mile Road entrance to the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Multiple men arrested for alleged automaker plant heist

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2023


STERLING HEIGHTS — A crew of suspected car thieves had a less than stellar time completing a heist at the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, near 17 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, early in the morning of Jan. 17, according to law enforcement authorities.

According to the Sterling Heights Police Department, local police reportedly apprehended nine suspects as part of an effort to stop the theft of Ram trucks from the facility. Police said multiple suspects entered the plant’s grounds around 4:45 a.m.

A joint effort among local law enforcement agencies in Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Macomb County, Shelby Township, Utica and Warren reportedly prevented several suspects from getting away. Police said they managed to pull it off without injury to either themselves or the suspects — though a factory entrance and exit gate and a police vehicle were reportedly damaged by a suspect-driven vehicle.

In a prepared statement, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido called the scenario “just outrageous.”

“Stealing vehicles and creating havoc is not acceptable in Macomb County — or any place, for that matter,” he said.

According to the Sterling Heights police, five suspects were arraigned Jan. 19 in 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights.

Three of them were identified as Timothy Haslam Jr., 18; Demarion Palmer, 18; and Jaquan Reed, 25. Those three suspects were each charged with four felonies: larceny over $20,000, conspiracy to commit that larceny, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit that unlawful driving. Such crimes, upon finding of guilt, can respectively carry sentences of 10 years, 10 years, five years and five years.

A fourth suspect, Derrin Abbott, 23, was charged with those same four crimes. Sterling Heights police said he also was accused of third-degree fleeing from a police officer, a five-year felony.

A fifth suspect, Travon Brookins, 23, was charged with firearm possession by a felon, felony firearm, controlled substance – possession of analogues, and another felony firearm charge related to felony drug possession. Anyone guilty of those crimes could get five years, two years mandatory, two years and two years, respectively, according to police.

Abbott, Brookins, Haslam and Reed were set bonds for $50,000 cash surety/10% deposit, with a condition of having to wear a tether if released. Palmer got a $10,000 cash surety/10% deposit bond, with no condition of tether upon release, police said.

In a prepared statement, Stellantis spokeswoman Ann Marie Fortunate described the actions her company is taking.

“Stellantis is working with the Sterling Heights Police Department and other law enforcement agencies regarding the attempted theft of several vehicles on the morning of Jan. 17, 2023, from a shipping yard that services the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant managed by a third party,” she said. “As this is an open investigation, the company is not providing any additional details on this incident.”

According to Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli, multiple suspects had entered the parking lot at 7500 17 Mile Road to try to take Ram pickup trucks.

Police initially announced the arrest of seven suspects and later announced that two more suspects were in custody. Neither Bastianelli nor the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office were able to provide further details on the four unnamed suspects at press time.

Mayor Michael Taylor commended the police on their work in stopping the vehicle thefts at a Jan. 17 Sterling Heights City Council meeting.

“It’s always a good day when the bad guys try to commit some crime around 5 in the morning, and it’s on the, like, 7 o’clock news that we caught them, all of them, right?” he said. “And the officers are all safe, everybody is protected, the property is protected and people can rest assured that crime doesn’t pay in Sterling Heights.”

When the Sentry sought comment from the defendants’ attorneys, Brookins’ attorney, Steven Freers, said regarding his client: “He wasn’t involved, and he came later.”

Abbott’s attorney, Alan Saoud; Palmer’s attorney, Ian Kierpaul; and Haslam’s attorney, Joseph Alex, all said they had no comment regarding their clients. Reed’s listed attorney, Stanley Szot, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Anyone with further information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Sterling Heights Detective Bureau by calling (586) 446-2825.