Detroit police arrested a suspect Tuesday linked to a stolen van used in the theft of Novi and Farmington Hills police and fire uniforms and sparking concern about smash-and-grab break-ins with vehicles.

A stolen white van used in the theft of Novi and Farmington Hills police and fire uniforms was recovered Tuesday after being used in an attempted burglary at a liquor store on the city’s west side, police said.

Earlier, the owner of a liquor store on the 5000 block of Tireman called 911 around 2 a.m. Tuesday to report that a driver of a white GMC cargo van was ramming into the front door of his business.

The man called in the crime from home, where he was watching surveillance footage showing three men entering the business, then stealing Lotto tickets and liquor.

Three suspects fled before police arrived, leaving behind the van and the almost-stolen goods, said Jennifer Watson, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

Police traced the van to the prior theft. 

Detroit police Assistant Chief Arnold Williams said recent break-ins in Metro Detroit have featured perpetrators smashing into businesses. He said a vehicle is used to crash through a business in order to pilfer goods. 

Williams said police believe three crews are operating in the area, including Dearborn, and possibly are connected. 

"Of the three crews, we have one in custody," Williams said. "His crew is responsible for the majority of the smash-and-grabs. The one this morning (in the Tuesday liquor store incident), we have a person of interest we are investigating."

The van used in the liquor store break-in was stolen Friday during a break-in at a Detroit dry cleaning business, at which Farmington Hills and Novi police and firefighter uniforms stolen. The Farmington Hills police uniforms have been located. 

"We want to make sure we talked to everyone in the city and businesses to let them know we are investigating this ... and we hope to end this smash-and-grab spree," he said. 

Williams asked the public to watch out for vehicles circling businesses after hours and to call the police about anything suspicious. 


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