Sterling Heights police catch Craigslist robbery suspect

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 6, 2019

 Rodrick Mitchell

Rodrick Mitchell

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Police are calling out a suspect they believe stole an individual’s cellphone instead of paying for it as part of an arranged online exchange.

Police investigated a report of an unarmed robbery at around 11:54 a.m. Feb. 5 in a parking lot outside Bed Bath & Beyond, located at 12020 Hall Road, near M-53.

Police reportedly spoke with a victim who said he had scheduled a meeting with someone on Craigslist who wanted to purchase a cellphone. But when he met the purported buyer, it allegedly turned out to be a robber, who grabbed the phone out of the seller’s grip and then fled without paying, police said.

Officers patrolled the street and the area, and found a suspect nearby. He was arrested and taken to the police station.

Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli could not say what kind of cellphone was allegedly stolen, and he only gave limited details about where or how police caught the suspect — since it’s still under investigation.

“We also utilized a K-9 to track him,” he said. “It was 100 percent police investigation. Our officers did an outstanding job of basically putting two and two together.”

At a Feb. 6 arraignment in 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights, the suspect was identified as Rodrick Mitchell, 19, from Sterling Heights. He was reportedly charged with larceny from a person. Bond for that was listed at $5,000 or 10 percent. He also was charged with assault and battery based on a previous warrant. The bond for that was reportedly set at $1,000 or 10 percent.  

Bastianelli said the assault and battery charge is unrelated to the incident outside the Bed Bath & Beyond. A 41-A District court representative said Mitchell had no listed attorney at press time. His next scheduled court dates are a Feb. 14 probable cause conference and a Feb. 21 preliminary exam.

Bastianelli said anyone who wants to sell items to strangers in person should take precautions and meet in a public location. He emphasized that people can use the Police Department lobby for these sorts of transactions, since most criminals won’t commit unlawful activity in front of police.

“The biggest thing is just be smart about the possible transaction,” he said. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with there out in the public. They could be scams. … If somebody is not willing to meet at the (public) location, their intentions are likely criminal in nature.”

He also said it might be wise to bring others along so the seller has safety in numbers.

“That might deter people who want to do anything because there might be more witnesses,” he said.

Find out more about the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800.

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