Three men arrested in relation to targeted break-ins

By: Sherri Kolade, Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 22, 2018

 Sotiraq Lako

Sotiraq Lako

 Andi Mustafa

Andi Mustafa

 Alban Mustafa

Alban Mustafa

WEST BLOOMFIELD/FARMINGTON HILLS — Three men have been arrested after a rash of targeted home invasions in West Bloomfield and metro Detroit.

The South Oakland Narcotics Intelligence Consortium — a collaborative investigative team that includes the West Bloomfield Police Department, the Farmington Hills Police Department and the Novi Police Department — has been investigating a string of home invasions.

The home invasions seemed to target the homes of Asian business owners. The suspects would research the victims, their businesses and their homes before breaking and entering the affected properties.

West Bloomfield Police Department officials told the Beacon in January that there tends to be a rash of these types of break-ins every couple of years. The suspects were thought to target cash-based business owners because they keep large amounts of money at home.

The men are suspected of targeting “dozens” of Asian families dating back to 2014, said West Bloomfield Deputy Chief Curt Lawson. The victims of the break-ins are located all over metro Detroit, including West Bloomfield Township, Novi, Farmington Hills, White Lake, Canton, Northville Township and Birmingham. There are at least a dozen cases that the suspects are linked to, according to Lawson.

“The West Bloomfield Police Department believes these suspects are linked to no fewer than a dozen home invasions,” said Lawson. “In all reality, the more we look, it could be dozens over a period of years. ... (We believe) they have surveilled over 100 people over several years.”

The suspects would typically break into the homes during the afternoon, while no one was home. Many of the entries were made through second-story windows using a ladder.

In most cases, the suspects took cash and high-end watches.

Authorities are also investigating other cases in Macomb, Wayne and Livingston counties.

“We’ve executed over a dozen separate search warrants, and we’ve recovered over a half a million dollars in cash and a great deal of jewelry. We seized bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and have searched physical locations as well.”

Farmington Hills Lt. Paul Nicholas said that the suspects allegedly broke into a house at around 7 p.m. Feb. 14 on Autumn Ridge, in a neighborhood southeast of 12 Mile and Middlebelt roads.

SONIC officials arrested Alban Mustafa and Andi Mustafa Feb. 14 after witnessing the pair break into the residence, police said.

Search warrants for the two men revealed a large number of stolen items.

Alban Mustafa, 32, of Wixom, and Andi Mustafa, 30, of Novi, were arraigned in the 47th District Court by Judge Marla Parker on counts of conspiracy, second-degree home invasion, possessing tools of breaking and entering, and obtaining personal identifying information.

Both suspects were given $500,000 cash bonds. They did not have legal representation at the time of arraignments.

SONIC officials arrested a third man, Sotiraq Lako, 38, of Novi, on Feb. 14. He was arraigned before Parker on counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree home invasion.

Lako’s bond was set at $200,000. Lako’s legal representation could not be reached for comment by press time.

All three men were housed in the Oakland County Jail at press time.

Detectives from the West Bloomfield Police Department, along with neighboring jurisdictions, are pursuing additional charges, including counts of continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy and racketeering, first-degree home invasion, second-degree home invasion, and the concealing of firearms.

Lawson said that SONIC officials are preparing to present a case to the Oakland County prosecutor next week to pursue further charges.

Nicholas said that the Farmington Hills Police Department, through the SONIC unit, and the Police Department’s Directed Patrol Unit — which does surveillance work, among other things — worked together “surveilling the subjects for a period of time.”

“The three subjects were taken into custody after the home invasion,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas added that there is “definitely a partnership” between the Farmington Hills and the West Bloomfield police departments, which was evident in this case.

“We have two detectives assigned to SONIC — they work out of West Bloomfield and do surveillance work in situations like this,” Nicholas said. “To supplement them, we used our Directed Patrol Unit that … can supplement SONIC when needed.”

Nicholas said the Farmington Hills Police Department executed numerous search warrants after the arrests, and numerous stolen items were recovered from home invasions throughout Oakland and Livingston counties, and possibly Monroe County.

Farmington Hills is charging the suspects only with the Farmington Hills incident, while West Bloomfield is handling the other incidents.

“West Bloomfield is leading the case and putting all the home invasions together,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas declined to say how long the suspects were surveilled and what led to them being surveilled, but he did disclose some details in the case that led to the arrests.

“Information was developed from a witness that led investigators to the subjects, and once they were identified, they were surveilled for some time until this home invasion in Farmington Hills,” Nicholas said.