Detroit— Police are working to prevent a repeat of a scam that happened during a downtown charity event Saturday, in which a man used a pink bandana to wave motorists into a parking lot, only to break into their vehicles while they were walking to raise money for breast cancer research.
The scam happened during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Montcalm and Brush. More than a dozen cars were reportedly burglarized.
Among the victims was Nicole Kevwitch, the girls’ swim coach at Redford Union High School. A formal dress one of her students had planned to wear to the school’s homecoming dance that night and $280 in cash she and her students had raised for the charity were stolen.
“She even bought special makeup for the dance,” Kevwitch said. “She had to go shopping for a new dress. She was sad because she was going to her brother’s baby shower after the walk, and she had to leave the shower early to get another dress.
“We saw some men around the corner who had my girl’s back pack, so we called police,” Kevwitch said. “I know the police have gone through a bunch of cutbacks, and they’re doing the best they can with what they have. They did show up, but it was frustrating because they didn’t get there for an hour, and by then the men were gone.”
Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said Monday the department plans to step up patrols during downtown events, and is working with the city to avoid future incidents.
“We’re going to make our patrols commensurate with the activity,” Woody said. “We’re also working with the Licensing Bureau to determine who’s registered to park cars.”
Woody said it’s not unusual for people to pose as parking lot attendants and take money from unsuspecting motorists.
“We need to make sure we identify people trying to illegally flag cars into lots, and cite them accordingly,” Woody said. Police can cite violaters “for misdemeanor defrauding or for operating a parking lot without a permit, which is a civil infraction.”
Woody said operating a lot without a permit is punishable by a $150 fine for the first offense and up to a $500 fine and jail time for a third offense.
No arrests have been made in connection with Saturday’s incident, Woody said.