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Police catch suspect in 22 larcenies from vehicles

By: David Wallace | Farmington Press | Published August 29, 2012

FARMINGTON — Police believe a 21-year-old Taylor man, and likely someone else, took belongings left in at least 22 unlocked vehicles in the Chatham Hills subdivision, near Grand River and Halsted, during the early morning Aug. 15.

“Unfortunately, last week we had the rash of larcenies one night out in Chatham Hills subdivision. Again, just as a reminder to residents, we ask that they keep their vehicles locked, their valuables out of sight, and again, one of the things I learned recently, too, with some of the newer vehicles out there, their garage door openers are automatically in the vehicle and will activate a garage door even if there are no keys in the car,” said Farmington Public Safety Director Robert Schulz at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting.

In all, the suspect(s) entered 22 unlocked vehicles and one unlocked garage. Police said the stolen property included money, GPS units, radar detectors, purses, jewelry and a computer.

“Thankfully, due to the aggressive work of the detectives and patrol officers, we were able to develop a suspect and recover most of the stolen items and have somebody in custody in a couple days,” said Schulz.

While investigating the larcenies, police discovered that someone had seen a suspicious man in the area after midnight, and a stolen credit card incurred a charge at a Downriver gas station after 3 a.m.

Then the Southgate Police Department notified Farmington Public Safety Department investigators that someone had tried to sell property from the larcenies in Southgate. Meanwhile, police found that fingerprint evidence collected from a vehicle and analyzed at the Oakland County Crime Lab matched the suspect who had tried to sell the stolen goods.

Detectives from both cities got a search warrant for the suspect’s residence, and Farmington Hills and South Oakland Narcotics Intelligence Consortium officers helped carry out the search and arrest the suspect.

“That’s terrific work by the department,” said Farmington Mayor Tom Buck.

The suspect was being held in Southgate pending charges from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. The Farmington Public Safety Department planned to present its case to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office.

Farmington Public Safety Cmdr. Frank Demers said Aug. 24 that Southgate will seek charges for receiving and concealing stolen property, and Farmington investigators were still working out some details in their case. The suspect is in jail on a probation violation, Demers said.

“That gives us time to work our case and not have to worry about him going out and breaking into more cars,” Demers said.

City Council members said they appreciated the investigators’ work, maybe none more than Mayor Pro Tem Bill Galvin.

“My vehicle was one of the vehicles that was entered, and completely my fault, because I did not lock my doors, and it’s very easy to lock your doors,” said Galvin. “Most cars have a key fob; it’s electronic. You don’t have to leave your house — just stand in your kitchen or living room and look out the window, press the button — and I didn’t do it that night.”

Schulz said it could happen to anyone.

“Some people are very faithful, and it only takes one night to forget,” Schulz said.

“Thank you very much for all your help. And officer (Scott) Brown fingerprinted my car. They didn’t get any fingerprints, but he was right: It takes about two carwashes to get that fingerprint dust off your car,” said Galvin.

Police have no doubt that the suspect worked with someone else in the crimes, but they have no evidence to arrest anyone else.

Why a Taylor man allegedly committed larcenies from automobiles in a Farmington neighborhood is a mystery.

“We have no idea yet what the connection is — if there is, or if they just go off and just go city to city. He was not cooperative as far as interviews,” said Schulz.