Monday, November 30, 2009

Pittsfield Township police arrest 2 suspects in string of auto break-ins, subsequent burglaries

An alert Pittsfield Township police officer arrested two men wanted for questioning in a string of auto break-ins and subsequent burglaries using GPS devices in southeast Michigan, authorities said.
Christopher Michael Cacicedo and Phillip Ray Trivett, both 23, are charged with conspiracy to commit home invasion, larceny from a motor vehicle, breaking and entering in a motor vehicle and possession of burglary tools.
Thieves have been stealing GPS units, registrations and garage door openers from cars, police say. Using addresses on the registrations or programmed into the GPS units, they drive to homes and burglarize them, investigators say. Many of the car break-ins have occurred at venues where people spend hours of their time, including movie theaters or sporting events, police say. That means the thieves have time to take the GPS units and drive to the people's homes before they discover the theft.
Cacicedo and Trivett are under investigation for two incidents in which cars were broken into in Pittsfield Township and homes were subsequently burglarized, said Gordy Schick, the township's deputy director of police services.
A number of other law enforcement agencies across the Metro Detroit area also are investigating, Schick said.
Pittsfield Officer Aja Chung spotted Cacicedo and Trivett next to a white pick-up truck in the parking lot of Showcase Cinemas on Carpenter Road at about 8 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
Investigators had been looking for the truck for weeks, and Chung noticed the vehicle parked next to it had a broken window. Chung also found a garage door opener underneath the truck. It had been taken from the other car, police said.
She arrested the men with assistance from other officers.
It's unclear whether the men have attorneys. Attempts this afternoon to contact their family members were unsuccessful.
Schick said he's relieved the two are in custody.
"These are two guys you would not want around during the holidays," Schick said.
Cacicedo of Trenton and Trivett of Rockwood are being held at the Washtenaw County Jail. Cacicedo is being held on $25,000 bail, and Trivett is being held on $20,000 bail, jail officials said.
Cacicedo has previously been convicted of charges including breaking and entering into a vehicle, state Department of Corrections records show.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for Reach him at (734) 623-2527 or email at

Flint Township woman loses more than $4,700 in mystery shopper scam

By Laura Angus Flint Journal
November 27, 2009, 9:56AM
FLINT TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Laurie’s husband had just died and she was desperate for some extra cash when she heard about a way to make some online.
The 46-year-old Flint Township woman, who declined to give her last name, signed up to be a mystery shopper and received a check for nearly $5,000 on Oct. 23. She was instructed to deposit the money and make two wire transfers — leaving her with a payment of $250.
“I needed some extra money ... and I just fell right into this,” she said.
Days later, she got a call from her bank telling her the check was bogus — and she was $4,700 in the hole.
Tim Burns, public affairs director Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan, said counterfeit checks and money orders are becoming a huge problem because scammers can buy affordable printers that will print documents that can “fool even the banks.”
Burns said people should be wary if someone gives them a check for more than needed and ask for the extra cash to be returned or wired back.
“That should be a real warning sign,” he said.
Another scheme sees the scammer send a check for more than needed only to say later it was a mistake and ask for the victim to return the rest or extra cash is needed to cover taxes, he said.
“A lot of people get caught up in this because sometimes you get some pretty legitimate excuses for why they want you to do this,” he said.
Scam artists understand the deadlines banks have for giving people cash when they deposit a check, but it often takes a couple of days after those deadlines for the bank to determine whether a check is valid, he said. “They don’t need to hook everyone, they just need to hook a couple of people to make a lot of money.”
As the holidays approach, there will be scammers out there “hiring” people to wrap gifts and mail them overseas, said Burns. In these scams, the money used to buy the gifts comes from stolen credit cards or bad checks and the person who falls victim to the crime helps the scammers get the items out of the country where they are sold.
“They come up with a new angle every week on these things,” he said.
David McGrain, vice president of marketing for the Flint-based Financial Plus Federal Credit Union, said the credit union sees three or four counterfeit checks like this per week.
“There are an awful lot of (fraudulent) checks going around,” he said.
He urged people to talk honestly with bank or credit union employees when they get a check they’re not totally sure is legitimate and follow their bank’s advice.
“I think a lot of people really feel like they’ve been pretty gullible after the fact,” he said. “We wish they would think ‘am I being gullible’ before the fact?
Laurie said she thought the offer seemed legitimate, and had she not been in a financial bind, she said she would have been more cautious. She said she has always urged friends to avoid falling into similar traps, and will be more vigilant in the future.
“Just be very, very cautious because I really, really don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she said.

Surveillance Cams Catch Teenage Thieves

INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - Two young men are locked up after police say they were caught on tape removing items from a woman's home.Officers say the 15-year-old and 17-year-old suspects were caught on the surveillance cameras at the home they're accused of robbing. The teens can reportedly be seen crossing the yard and then entering and leaving the home. Officers say the took a laptop, a big screen TV and the cables from the TV.The teens were taken into custody within 45 minutes of the time the woman reported the robbery. Police believe they are behind at least one other robbery in the area. They are asking people who think they may have been hit by the teens to come forward.The two suspects are currently locked up on 2nd degree home invasion charges. The 17-year-old is in custody at the Inkster jail. The 15-year-old is at the Wayne County Youth Home.

Murder Suspect Could be Headed to Michigan

(WXYZ) - A man accused of killing four family members in Florida on Thanksgiving could be heading to southeast Michigan. The alert for this suspected killer was put out Friday night by Birmingham Police. Police say 35-year-old Paul Michael Mirhage opened fire on his own family in Jupiter, Florida, Thursday night just after the Thanksgiving dinner. They say he was an invited guest who walked outside and came back in and started shooting, killing his twin 33-year-old sisters; one of them was pregnant Mirhage is also accused of killing a 79-year-old aunt and a 6-year-old cousin who was already in her bed.
Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for Merhige on Saturday night and a $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.
Police in Jupiter, Florida, and in Birmingham, Michigan, have put out an alert, because Mirhage is on the run and believed to be heavily armed. He may have lived in the Birmingham area for a short time within the past year or so, and may have seen a doctor here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two men arrested after home break-in

Thursday, November 26, 2009
By Danielle Quisenberry -- 768-4929
Two men are facing criminal charges after police said they broke into a Napoleon Township home Tuesday morning and assaulted the female occupant. The men entered the home in the 6200 block of Brooklyn Road, near Wells Road and the county gravel pit, and hit the 49-year-old woman, according to a township police news release. Police said a metal flashlight was used as a weapon.
The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Allegiance Health. The severity of her injuries was unclear Wednesday morning.
The pair took several items, including a rifle, and left on foot through an area thick with trees, brush and swamps.
Officers, called to the scene about 10:55 a.m., went looking for the suspects. Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Easter and his dog assisted. Undersheriff Tom Finco arranged for a Michigan State Police helicopter to further assist the effort, but the men were arrested before the helicopter arrived, according to the news release from township Chief Michael Curry.
The two went west, got a ride from Moon Lake Road, were followed by off-duty township Officer Christopher Desnoyer, and stopped by a state police car on South Street near Hoyer Road.
A hunter, who had earlier seen the alleged culprits, was later contacted and helped police find some items taken from the house, the flashlight and a T-shirt, which had been used to wrap one of the suspect's hand after he hurt it breaking a window.
Napoleon Township police also were assisted by Columbia Township police and Leoni Township public safety.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ypsilanti Sees 3 Break-Ins In 2 Days

No One Hurt In Break-Ins
POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2009
UPDATED: 7:19 pm EST November 22, 2009
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Ypsilanti police have issued a warning to the community after three home break-ins are reported in a two-day period.

Friday, girls inside the Sigma Delta Tau sorority house on Normal Street, near the campus of Eastern Michigan University, called police after seeing a man trying to get into the house through a window at about 9:45 p.m.
The girls scared the intruder away but were unable to give police a description.
The following morning at about 4:50 a.m., police said residents in a house in the 200 block of North Summit heard someone trying to open a door. Police said the residents were able to secure the door, preventing a man from getting inside.
The intruder in that case is described as a white man who is about 20 years old with blond hair. He was wearing orange pants and a dark-colored shirt.
Police said later Saturday evening, residents of an apartment in the 1400 block of Gregory Street confronted a man who had broken in.
The man in that case is described as a tall white man with wavy brown hair. He was wearing a white shirt and jeans.
The Ypsilanti Police Department is investigated all incidents.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 734-483-9510.
Eastern Michigan University Police can be reached at 734-487-1222.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Neighbors work together to take care of vacant homes

Eric Blount, 51, an accountant at DTE Energy, spent the spring and summer mowing grass at his own yard in Detroit's Sherwood Forest and also at the large corner lot next door.
And when a real estate agent nailed plywood over the ground-floor windows of the vacant, foreclosed home next door, Blount went over and painted the wood white to match the white-painted brick exterior.
"It doesn't pay to just look and not do anything," Blount said.
The foreclosure epidemic, while devastating to home values and the quality of life throughout the metro area, has created bonds in neighborhoods hit hardest.
"Having this large a number of vacant homes and knowing no one is going to fix it, brought us together as neighbors," said Gail Rodwin, who heads the vacant homes committee in Sherwood Forest.
In Warren, Mayor Jim Fouts and the Police Department are working to reduce crime, increase blight sweeps, host foreclosure-prevention workshops at City Hall, and fire up dormant neighborhood associations to keep a handle on foreclosures.
"We are doing everything we can to help people to avoid foreclosure," Fouts said.
In Indian Village, residents place baby monitors in vacant homes to stop break-ins and in other neighborhoods, some residents pool funds to buy foreclosed homes and keep them from deteriorating, said Emily Billings, an agent with Dwellings Unlimited in Southfield.
In the Boston-Edison neighborhood, the association's Web site promotes homes for sale, and it recently received a Kresge Foundation grant to help preserve abandoned property in the area, said Pam Malone, incoming president.
The Sherwood Forest vacant homes committee was created earlier this year to deal with the large number of vacant homes. Rodwin said she first triesto reach the Realtor to find out which lender owns the property. Lawyers in the neighborhood also lend their expertise to find and hold accountable owners.
If no one maintains the property, block captains step in as house monitors. Luther Bradley, 54, works in sales for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and oversees the block captains in Sherwood Forest.
His philosophy is simple: "Your neighborhood is as good as the neighbors." So he doesn't mind spending his free time keeping up the foreclosures from picking up debris to mowing the grass.
"I love this neighborhood. It is the jewel of Detroit," he said. "When people come to my neighborhood, I want them to say 'Ooh, aah,' not 'Oh, no.' "

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mundy Township Police arrest burglary suspect

By Dean Bohn
November 10, 2009, 2:35PM
MUNDY TWP., Michigan — An alert Mundy Township resident called police shortly after noon Tuesday, leading to the arrest of a burglary suspect, said police Chief James Petres.
The chief isn’t sure if the suspect, a Flint man, has connections to other break-ins in the area, but are investigating.
“Since Aug. 1 we’ve had 26 burglaries in the township, it’d be nice to clear some of these up,” he said. “It’s not just us, everywhere in the county burglaries are way up. I’m sure the economy has something to do with it.”
In Tuesday’s bust, a person along Fenton, south of Grand Blanc, saw a suspicious person leaving a home and leave in a vehicle. The witness called police while following the suspect. Less than two miles away, Sgt. Chris Piazza, coming the opposite way, stopped in the middle of Crook, near Fenton, blocking the path of the suspect. Piazza arrested the suspect without any resistance.
Police impounded the vehicle, which belongs to the suspect, and are sorting out the items inside to see if they belong to the suspect or are declared stolen from elsewhere.
Police at this time did not want to comment on if the suspect has prior convictions.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2nd break-in reported this week in Eastern Michigan University residence hall

A thief or thieves entered an unlocked Eastern Michigan University dormitory room early today while the students were sleeping and stole several belongings, campus police said.
It was the second break-in of an occupied room at Phelps Hall this week.
EMU issued a crime alert about the incident, which occurred between 4:30 and 7:15 a.m.
The room was entered while the residents were sleeping; there were no signs of forced entry, the crime alert said. When the residents woke up, they noticed two laptops, two cell phones, cash, a PS3, and three video games were stolen.
Police said the residents didn't see anyone entering or leaving the room.
The Department of Public Safety is asking anyone with information to call (734) 487-1222 or at the anonymous tip line at (734) 487-4847.

Man breaking into home on Flint's north side shot and killed by homeowner

By Melissa Burden Flint Journal
November 07, 2009, 1:57PMFLINT, Michigan — A man who was breaking into a home on W. Bishop Avenue, just west of King Avenue, was killed this morning when the homeowner shot the intruder, police said.The homeowner was talking on the phone to another family member about 10 a.m. when he thought he heard something at the back door, police said.“The suspects had already broken down the back door,” said Flint Police Lt. TP Johnson.Johnson said two people had broken into the home. The homeowner was able to get a gun away from one of the intruders, which the homeowner used to shoot one of the intruders, who died, Johnson said.The homeowner was not injured and is cooperating with police, Johnson said.Police are not yet releasing the name of the man who was shot but Johnson said he appears to be in his 20s.Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Bill Meyer at (810) 237-6929 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 422-JAIL.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How To Protect Your Jewelry While on Vacation

--(Business Wire)-
-(NAPSW)-Whether you`re traveling with your own jewelry or giving it as a holidaygift, jewelry insurance could be worth its weight in gold.

"Airport and hotel lobbies are frequently very public spaces that create a falsesense of security," says David Sexton, vice president, loss prevention, JewelersMutual Insurance Co. " We've had reports of thefts that occur as travelers arechecking in and momentarily can be caught off guard. They merely set their luggage on the floor and when they look down it's gone."

In fact, when jewelry is reported missing, the top reasons given include "I lostit at a hotel" and "I lost it while traveling." Jewelry insurance can coverpieces from wedding and engagement rings to heirloom necklaces that are lost,damaged or stolen, and it can cost less than you might expect. You can apply forthe insurance online or through a jeweler, and certain homeowners insuranceplans may cover jewelry, though they often cover only a small amount unless youpurchase a separate rider to cover your favorite pieces and gifts.

That`s why many people instead opt to work with specialty insurance providers such as Jewelers Mutual, the nation`s only insurer to specialize in jewelry. You can visit the company`s Web site at to get a freequote and access an online calculator to determine how much coverage you might need.

Founded in 1913, Jewelers Mutual offers these tips for safeguarding jewelry whenyou travel:
• Only bring what you wear every day.
• Consider wearing faux pieces when you travel, but remember that even fauxpieces may make you a target for theft.
• Never leave jewelry in your luggage to be transported by airlines, cruiselines or other public transportation.
• Store unworn jewelry in the hotel`s safe deposit box, not the safe located inyour room.
• When swimming, fingers constrict, making it more likely your ring will falloff. Rather than risk losing it, leave your ring in the hotel`s safe depositbox.
• Insure your jewelry to assure that you can replace it if it is lost, stolen ordamaged.

For more tips and information on jewelry insurance, or call (800) 558-6411.

Guardian Alarm Teams With NeighborNet To Help Community

NeighborNet Inc., who has teamed with Guardian Alarm, is helping neighborhood watch groups find crime with high tech weapons that are featured on WDIV news. Follow the link below to watch the story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elderly couple, son die in house fire

Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Ann Arbor -- An elderly couple and their son died in a house fire on the city's west side Sunday.
Firefighters were finishing up from responding to another fire call when they were called to a home on the 1700 block of Waverly Street. When they arrived at the home around 3 a.m., they found it engulfed in flames. Within five minutes of their arrival, the walls and roof of the structure collapsed.
Fire officials did not release the names of the victims, but they were identified by neighbors as Demetri and Joanna Alexandropoulos and their 42-year-old son John. According to public records, Demetri Alexandropoulos was 78 and Joanna Alexandropoulos was 82.
Neighbors said it was hard for firefighters to get to them.
"The home was so engulfed in flames that (firefighters) couldn't get in," said Barbara Richter, a longtime neighbor of the victims.
An initial search of the home did not turn up the victims. But a later search by Ann Arbor firefighters, police and Michigan State Police investigators using cadaver dogs found the victims Sunday afternoon.
Richter said fire investigators told her the fire may have started in the basement of the home.
Demetrius Alexandropoulos was a chef who used to own a restaurant on State Street near the University of Michigan campus called Joanna's. He also worked at Jonathan's restaurant on Jackson Street, according to Richter. (313) 222-2027