Furnaces stolen from 3 Habitat for Humanity homes

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

New furnaces were snatched recently from three renovated but vacant Habitat for Humanity homes in Eastpointe, according to officials.

"In every case, the front doors were kicked in and the furnaces were taken out," said Rob Johnson, chief operating officer of Habitat's Macomb County division.

Two of the homes were on the 21000 block of Tuscany and 17000 block of Collinson, Lt. Neil Childs said. He confirmed the department also is investigating a third theft from another home in the city.

"All of them are in the south end of our city, but they're not really close to each other," Childs said. "Which is pretty strange, so that gives us a lead to investigate."

Detectives are following up on "a couple investigative leads" but have no suspects, Childs said.

Meanwhile, a local company has stepped forward to replace the stolen equipment.

"We have information that Randazzo Heating & Cooling is donating replacement furnaces," Childs said.

It was not immediately clear when the thefts took place. Eastpointe police received reports Monday but the homes had not been visited for about a week, Childs said.

"It's a one week window we’re looking at, which always makes it tough," he said.

The thefts came on the eve of a busy holiday season and as Macomb Habitat aimed to wrap up its projects this year.

"Our (insurance) deductible is $5,000 and coming up with that amount during the end of our build season is tough," said Helen Hicks, president and CEO of Macomb Habitat. "Not only that, but one of the homes that was vandalized is scheduled for a veteran family and that is simply unacceptable.”

Habitat for Humanity is working with authorities to identify suspects and plans to offer a reward in the case.

"We will also start alarming all of our homes, even though the monies used to do that could be used in better ways or to build more homes," Johnson said.

There has been a recent uptick in thefts from vacant homes, including those not associated with Habitat, Childs said. He urged residents to keep their eyes on vacant houses in their neighborhood .

Many large appliances like furnaces are stolen by thieves posing as workers in white paneled vans or similarly large vehicles, Childs said.

"We’re hoping that a resident may have seen something; you can’t carry a furnace with you down the street," Childs said. "(If you see a) vacant home with a vehicle outside, it can’t hurt to call (police). We’ve actually caught people in the past."

Anyone with information about the three Habitat home thefts is asked to contact Eastpointe police at 586-445-5100.


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