DEARBORN— Four suspects were arrested on Wednesday, March 11, after breaking through a security checkpoint at the Fairlane Meadow apartment complex with a U-Haul, where they were attempting to steal car parts.
The four suspects are Detroit-Melvindale residents and all have warrants out for arrests in various cities.
Niko Harrel, 24, has three warrant in Detroit for a traffic violation as well as two in Wayne County for traffic offenses.
Geremy Tyler, 25, already has a warrant for his arrest in Romulus and Livionia for burglary and fraud
Cortez Steele, 22, has 10 Detroit traffic violations as well as a marijuana offense in Fraser and a traffic offense in Hamtramck
Lavoin Stephenson, 34, has one warrant in Detroit for a traffic violation
All arrested suspects were arraigned Thursday afternoon in Dearborn’s 19th district court, charged with Larceny from Vehicle $75,000 cash bond, no 10 percent and GPS Tether.
According to residents at the complex as well as a city press release, multiple car thefts had occurred in the area in recent weeks. The four men are suspected to have been linked to those cases as well.
Resident Rima Yahfoufi, 27, told The Arab American News that she was awakened by Dearborn Police at around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. She was told that four suspects were arrested while attempting to steal tires off of her 2014 Ford Explorer.
While the suspects were storing the tires in the U-Haul, Dearborn Police arrived onto the scene after receiving a tip of suspicious activity in the neighborhood.
One of the suspects tried fleeing the scene on foot, while another attempted to drive off with the U-Haul while police tailed him. During his attempt to escape, the U-Haul driver collided with other vehicles in the apartment complex, eventually coming to a halt. All of the suspects were captured and arrested at the scene.
Yahfoufi was told by Dearborn Police that theft of Ford vehicles had become common in the area, especially for Fusions, Explorers and Escapes. A year ago, she had also fallen victim to car theft when she was visiting a friend’s home in Dearborn Heights and her Ford Explorer was stolen.
“This raises my concern with Ford because they don't install alarm systems in the vehicle unless you pay for it,” Yahfoufi said. “They make you pay extra to install an alarm system. That's why it's easy for burglars to come and steal them, because there's no alarm system that goes off. Ford should look into this and realize the majority of the cars being stolen are from their company.”
Yahfoufi, a resident at the complex for five years, said this was the first time she’s felt restless in her neighborhood. She raised concerns about the security at Fairlane Meadow following the incident.
Management at the complex began taking extra measures to look out for suspicious activity following a string of complaints from residents who had their car parts stolen. The gate damaged on Wednesday morning was replaced just a few hours after the incident occurred. Guests are required to punch in a security code upon entrance.
“Everyone is uneasy around here,” Yahfoufi said. “We live in one of the best complexes and it's a gated community, but these people were so bold that they literally drove through the gate and broke it. The funny thing is the police station is three blocks away. They break in, do their thing and leave very quickly. From what I was told, it was very common.“Yahfoufi noted that she wanted to give recognition to police officer Yates and CPL Damphouse, for assisting her following the incident. A tow truck had been called onto the scene to remove the U-haul, but police officers and the tow truck driver were able to recover the stolen tires and place it back on Yahfoufi’s vehicle.
“The cop was actually nice enough to go out of his way and find me by knocking door to door,” Yahfoufi said. “After he found me, he stuck around until my truck was good to go. They were very courteous and respectful. I felt proud that Dearborn Police was serving and protecting my community.”
In a press release Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said that there were likely be less car thefts in the neighborhood now that the four suspects have been captured.
“A very vigilant citizen alerted officers to a crime in progress. Their prompt attention, coupled with the great work by our patrol officers and detectives will likely be responsible for a decrease in these types of crimes now that 4 suspects have been arrested and charged," Haddad said.
Residents with any information on auto-related thefts should contact ‘HEAT’ or ‘Help Eliminate Auto Thefts’ at 1-800-242-HEAT. Tips may be anonymous and cash rewards are available.”