SAGINAW, MI — A suspect is in police custody following a nighttime burglary of a Saginaw cellphone store, thanks to the help of a drone.
About 10:43 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11, Saginaw Police Officer Isaac Babinski responded to a burglary alarm at Boost Mobile, 2700 Davenport Ave. Babinski arrive on scene and found the business had indeed been broken into, as it had been on several recent occasions.
Babinski put a description of the previously unidentified suspect over the radio for other officers to check the vicinity.
About 10 minutes later, Michigan State Police Trooper Cody Siterlet began a foot pursuit of a subject matching the suspect’s description several blocks southeast of the store. Several other officers, including K-9 Mitch, responded and joined in the search, though they were not immediately able to locate the suspect.
Officers requested the presence of Saginaw County Sheriff’s Detective Ryan North, who brought his agency’s recently acquired DJI Matrice 300 drone, which has night vision and thermal imaging capabilities. North arrived at the scene and launched the drone skyward.
A short while later, North indicated the drone had detected a heat signature in the 2000 block of North Charles Street. North directed Officer Jon Beyerlein and Mitch to a back deck of a residence.
Beyerlein found the suspect, identified as a 50-year-old probation absconder, hiding under a barbecue grill and arrested him without incident. The man was lodged in the Saginaw County Jail on charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit a larceny and assaulting, resisting, or obstructing police, both felonies.
The suspect made off with two cash drawers, police said. The drawers have not been recovered as of Friday morning and police are asking anyone who finds them to call 911.
The Sheriff’s Office acquired the drone in September through a Department of Justice grant. North and Detective Sgt. Aaron Simons went through the training and certification process, enabling both officers to become certified through the Federal Aviation Administration and be classified as “Certified Law Enforcement Thermo-Graphers.”
“This is an excellent example of how well our Saginaw area police agencies work together side by side in a joint effort to make our community safer,” said Saginaw Police Chief Robert M. Ruth.
“We acquired this technology and trained our officers to further enable our agency to fight crime and assist our partner agencies utilizing the most innovative technology in attempt to give law enforcement an edge against those who choose to commit crimes,” added Saginaw County Undersheriff Mike Gomez.
The suspect’s name is being withheld pending his arraignment in Saginaw County District Court. Michigan Department of Corrections records state the suspect in May was sentenced to three years’ probation on a conviction of attempted breaking and entering. He has served several prison stints on charges of breaking and entering, assault with intent to rob, and assaulting police dating back to at least 1990.