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Sterling, Shelby police unite to smoke out burglary suspects

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published December 3, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights police said they recently assisted in the apprehension of four suspects who allegedly spent months burglarizing local tobacco and smoking stores by drilling into their walls.

According to Sterling Heights police, burglars have targeted various strip mall smoke shops within multiple Macomb County communities over “the past few months.”

In response, the Sterling Heights Police Department Community Response Unit staked out tobacco and smoke businesses in the county over a period of two months.

Police said the thieves’ strategy apparently involved breaking into a business next door to the tobacco business they wanted to reach. The suspects ultimately accomplished their heists by drilling holes into walls that connect the two businesses, police explained.

Police said a breakthrough in the crime investigation happened around 3:30 a.m. Nov. 22, when Sterling Heights police reported seeing multiple suspects break into a business neighboring a Smokers Express in the 52000 block of Hayes Road, south of 24 Mile Road, in Shelby Township.

Sterling Heights police then worked with Shelby Township police to make the arrests. Police pulled over two suspect vehicles without incident. A third vehicle reportedly led police on a chase before the vehicle crashed and the driver was caught, Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said. Altogether, police arrested four people for breaking and entering.

Bastianelli praised the police operation and the officers’ work.

“All officers that were involved did an outstanding job,” he said. “We have a great working relationship with the Shelby Township Police Department. … When incidents happen like this, we come together as a team, and ultimately, we end up winning.”

Shelby Township police will handle the prosecution because the incident happened in their jurisdiction. Shelby Township Police Capt. Jason Schmittler commented on the arrests.

“Detectives and officers from both departments demonstrated tremendous teamwork,” he said. “Communication was crucial in this rapidly changing scene. Four suspects were taken into custody and held accountable for their actions.”

Anyone who knows more about this incident is encouraged to contact the Shelby Township Police Department by calling (586) 731-2121.

Staff Writer Kara Szymanski contributed to this report.