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Police thwart church thieves

January 30, 2013 - Cooperative police work led to the arrests of three family members believed responsible for thefts from the Church of Christ in January and other crimes in Oakland County.

According to a report from Lt. Dan Toth of the Oakland County Sheriff's Department Orion Substation, two females entered the Church of Christ located on Hemingway Road in Orion Township during a church service on January 20.

The women solicited church members for money or a "donation" so they could return to Tennessee.

After the women left, a church member discovered her purse containing cash and credit cards missing. The victim reported the theft and immediately contacted her credit card companies.

The victim then learned the stolen credit cards had just been used at several area businesses.

Oakland County Sheriff's detectives obtained video from a Meijer store in Auburn Hills showing the two women and a man together in the store and one using the stolen credit card.

All three were seen leaving the store at different times. The vehicle used by the three suspects was also seen in the video and a police request to be on the lookout was sent out to metro area police agencies for assistance identifying the trio.

On January 25, Oakland County detectives were notified by the West Bloomfield Police Department that they found the vehicle and identified the suspects in the Orion Township theft. The trio were arrested in a retail fraud incident in West Bloomfield.

Orion-based detectives executed search warrants on a room the trio had been living at the Highlander Motel in Waterford Township and the suspects' vehicle. Evidence and property were recovered from the motel and vehicle to confirm the credit card fraud and Orion Township purse theft.

Detectives learned the three, who are all related, were staying in Oakland County for the last ten days after leaving Tennessee.

They are being investigated for other area thefts. One is in custody on an unrelated charge. Two of three suspects are expected to be charged in the Orion Township crime.

Detectives are crediting video surveillance photographs and sharing information with other agencies in helping to apprehend the trio

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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