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Bloomfield Hills

October 14, 2013

Quick call thwarts suspected would-be thief, police say

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — When in doubt, pick up the phone.

That’s the message that the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department hopes residents will take away from an incident that happened Oct. 6. Thanks to the quick thinking of a resident, a suspected would-be thief is now behind bars.

At around 1:20 p.m. that day, officers were called to the 4300 block of Lahser Road on reports of a suspicious man who claimed to be an employee of Home Depot in order to gain entry into a residence.

“What happened is that this guy had been seen in the neighborhood before and walked up on the property. The homeowner called us to report it, and we said, ‘Well, call us back if you see anything suspicious.’ And he came back,” said Chief David Hendrickson of Bloomfield Hills Public Safety.

Hendrickson said that the suspect identified himself to the homeowner as being an employee of Home Depot and asked to look around to see what building materials were being used on an ongoing construction project on the property.

The resident, recognizing the man police later identified as Larry Giffin, of Rochester Hills, asked him to wait just a moment. She went to call the police, but when she returned, the man was gone.

Police responded immediately, but the man had already taken off in a full-sized silver Ford van. Moments later, officers were able to locate the van and attempted to stop the vehicle near Long Lake and Woodward. Giffin reportedly refused to stop and was pursued for several miles. Officers alerted other police departments in the area of the pursuit, and an Auburn Hills police officer, along with Oakland County sheriffs deputies, were able to stop Giffin in Pontiac.

Hendrickson said that Giffin, upon arrest, admitted to being high on cocaine and was looking to steal items from the home. He reportedly had several stolen items from other areas in his van at the time of arrest.

“That’s what’s going on a lot lately. We’re lucky we haven’t had a lot of those types of thefts, but it’s just crimes of opportunity. He wanted to see if he can take some tools from the site and whatever else he can get his hands on,” he said.

The 1993 Ford van was found to be stolen from Chesterfield Township. Giffin was arraigned in 48th District Court Oct. 8 for fleeing and eluding Bloomfield Hills officers, with more charges pending from the Oakland County Sherriff’s Department. He was given a $150,000 cash bond. He is currently on parole with a tether, according to Lt. Terrence McDonnell of Bloomfield Hills Public Safety. Giffin’s prior convictions include home invasion, fleeing and eluding, unlawfully driving away of an automobile and intent to pass false title, among other charges.

Representation for Giffin was unable to be reached by the Eagle’s press time.

The moral of the story, Hendrickson said, is that a suspect was caught because a resident quickly called police. He said that with more and more legitimate contractors coming into the city to work on construction and landscaping projects, the likelihood of criminals posing as contractors coming to the area may increase, as well.

The only way to thwart these scammers looking for crimes of opportunity is for residents to keep an eye on their neighborhood and call police whenever they’re unsure of a person or situation.

“Please call us. We have the time, and we’d love to shoot out,” he said. “We’re in the neighborhoods more looking for these types of things. If you call us, we can be there in a minute.”

To contact the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Department, call (248) 644-4200.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.