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January 15, 2014

Woman reports home invasion after posting plans on social media

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

SOUTHFIELD — Another user of social media fell victim to a crime after sharing personal information on Instagram, the online photo and video-sharing social networking site.

According to police reports, a woman reported at 2:49 a.m. Dec. 16 that she had left her apartment, located in the 28000 block of Franklin Road, around 10 p.m. the evening prior and returned later to find that her door lock was compromised and her home was in disarray.

“In every room, drawers were pulled open, closets were emptied and the contents were on the floor,” Nieghborhood Watch Coordinator Mark Marlott noted in the Southfield Citizen Observer. “Victim did state that she flashed photos of her money on Instagram and also posted when she would be going out. She further stated that people know she hides money in her apartment.”

Reported stolen were two televisions, one from the living room and one from her daughter’s room. Responding officers found no one inside the unit, and there were no suspects at press time.

This has not been the only time Instagram or other social media sites made their way into Southfield’s recent criminal activities.

Things got out of hand at a house party in the 20000 block of Westland Drive the night of Feb. 17, when two women were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds to their arms.

At the time of the crime, the only lead officers had was that the party invitation had been posted on Instagram and that no witnesses knew who had the gun or how the two 18-year-old victims became targets.

“Our officers responded to the location after receiving several 911 calls about shots being heard,” Lt. Nick Loussia said after the incident occurred. “Numerous vehicles were leaving the area when our officers arrived, and one of the vehicles stopped and made contact with our officer. The driver said she had two females in her car that had been shot, each with a gunshot wound to the arm.”

Officers administered first-aid to both victims, and the victims, one from Southfield and the other from Royal Oak, were transported by ambulance to the hospital.

“The party had been thrown at the house by a male and was advertised on Instagram. Because of that, a lot of people who were not invited to the party showed up,” Loussia explained, adding that more than 30 people were inside the house when police arrive.

“People believed there was some type of altercation between two males, and after that, that’s when the shots were fired. … We believe shots were fired randomly into the crowd of partygoers, and they just happened to be the victims of the shots.”

In September, two teens were arrested after they allegedly used a pellet gun to steal a pair of fake diamond earrings from a Southfield teen. The sale had been arranged by the parties through Instagram.

A 16-year-old boy from Waterford and a 19-year-old man from Detroit were charged with armed robbery for holding up a 15-year-old boy the evening of Sept. 30. According to the report, the victim was supposed to meet up with one other person in the parking lot of a business in the 18000 block of 10 Mile Road to sell the earrings.

The victim told police he had advertised the earrings on Instagram and it is not clear whether the purchase agreement was for cubic zirconia earrings, Loussia noted.

“When the person who was supposed to buy the earrings showed up, the victim saw that there was at least one other person in the vehicle with him,” Loussia said. “When the victim walked up to the vehicle to make contact with the buyer, the driver of the vehicle asked to see the earrings, and as the victim was showing them to him, an individual in the backseat pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at him and said, ‘Give me your stuff.’”

The victim complied, giving the unknown suspects the earrings, and the suspects reportedly fled in the vehicle. Loussia added that the suspects only took the earrings — made of a material known for its low cost, durability and visual likeness to authentic diamonds — and none of the victim’s personal possessions, such as his wallet or cellphone.

The victim responded by filing a police report stating he had been held at gunpoint and robbed. He was able to give a thorough description of the vehicle and suspects, Loussia explained, and officers began an investigation into the crime.

“Officers were able to make both arrests within two days,” Loussia said. “The vehicle that was used in the robbery was recovered, and the weapon that was used turned out to be a (loaded) pellet handgun. … Even though the gun wasn’t real, they were still charged with armed robbery because they did use a weapon.”

Loussia added that the victim was unharmed, and the earrings were returned to him.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.