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Alert deputy nabs suspected gun thief



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Portillo (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012 - Local law enforcement always urge residents to keep belongings locked up. That goes double when it's a handgun.

A Springfield Township resident learned that the hard way when his pistol was taken from his unlocked vehicle, Sept. 11.

The weapon was reported stolen on Sept. 12 and recovered by Springfield Township deputies on Sept. 14. The suspect faces five felony charges in connection with the theft.

Luis Portillo of Springfield Township, 21, is being held in Oakland County Jail on $100,000 bond.

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Charges include possession of a stolen handgun, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; felon in possession of a firearm, 5 years; and possession of a firearm while committing a felony, 2 years.

The deputy stopped the suspect because of a broken taillight, said Det. Sgt. Matt Baldes, commander of Oakland County Sheriff's Springfield Township substation.

"That was outstanding work by the deputy, to pay attention during a routine thing we do," Baldes said. "He could have just issued a warning or ticket, but he asked the right questions and did the right things, and discovered a stolen handgun."

Springfield Township is a safe community, but everyone should still keep their homes and vehicles locked, Baldes said.

"We're seeing vehicles gone through and smaller items taken, GPS units and change," he said. "The common denominator has been the vehicles are unlocked. Yes, we live in a rural area, but people need to lock up their stuff."

The detective also recommends residents to report thefts of any kind as soon as possible so they can track criminal activity.

"No matter how much, no matter how trivial, we want to know," he said.

Springfield Township residents reported 22 thefts from vehicles through August. Last year by this time, residents reported 23 similar cases.

"We're not seeing smash and grabs, so it's an easy fix – lock your cars," Baldes said.

They also want to know about anything suspicious. Call the substation at 248-625-8531. It's not manned full time, but you can leave a message. Call Oakland County Sheriff's Office at 248-858-4950.

Portillo waived a preliminary hearing in 52-2 District Court on Sept. 24. His next court date is set for Oct. 11.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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