Oakland Township targeted by crime ring burglarizing wealthy Oakland County residents

By: Mary Genson, Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 20, 2023

Shutterstock image


OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Oakland Township’s most affluent homes are now being targeted in what Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard is referring to as a transnational crime ring.

Organized and trained thieves have been targeting certain areas of the United States and breaking into homes in search of cash, jewelry, high-end clothing, purses and products.

Most recently, thieves have begun hitting homes with the highest net value in Oakland Township.

“We have had some, and we’re doing everything we can to help prevent more,” said Lt. Stephen Dooley of the Oakland Township substation of the Oakland County Sheriffs’ Office. “They’re actually happening all over the county and all over the country, unfortunately.”

According to Bouchard, these transnational crime groups are made up of individuals from South American countries. He said Oakland County is now on their radar; however, they are traveling throughout the United States to carry out their crimes.

Bouchard said they are believed to have entered the country in one of two ways, either illegally across the southern border or through the Visa Waiver Program.

He said they purchase fake identification and often overstay their visas and cancel their return dates. They also are known to establish residency in the areas they are targeting. They do this through fraudulent housing applications or Airbnb.

Bouchard said that in Oakland County, they typically break in around 5-9 p.m. He added that preferred targets are homes that are isolated and back up to wooded areas, trails and golf courses that have no one home.

“Their general targets are through the backs of the homes,” Dooley said. “With this crew in particular, they seem to avoid confrontation. They would run away from confrontation rather than engage in it, from what we can see.”

Once inside, they focus on stealing smaller, expensive items.

“Generally speaking, they are looking for cash, jewelry and high-end bags,” said Dooley.

Dooley said the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is on the case, adding that he has recently visited many homeowners association meetings to inform residents and dispel rumors.

“We’re doing everything we can. We’re doing extra patrols, especially around the subdivisions that are being targeted,” he said. “The best thing we can tell residents is to stay vigilant, and if they see something out of place, give us a call.”

Residents are encouraged to invest in their home security and make sure security measures are on and tested. Good quality cameras and layered systems throughout the house are recommended. Residents are also urged to secure all their valuables in a heavy-duty safe that is anchored.

“We recommend alarm systems and camera systems, which are general deterrents, especially if they have glass break alarms on all floors,” Dooley noted.

If anyone sees something suspicious happening in their neighborhood, they are encouraged to reach out to law enforcement.

“The best thing we can tell residents is to stay vigilant, and if they see something out of place, give us a call,” Dooley said.

Capt. Russ Yeiser, of the Rochester Hills substation, said Rochester Hills has not experienced any burglaries related to the crime ring recently, but noted some homes were broken into earlier in the year.

“We had a couple earlier this year, but we haven’t had anything since,” said Yeiser.