Off-duty Roseville cop nabs accused laptop thief in Clinton Township – The Oakland Press
Stephen Tunney is thankful for Roseville police officer Andrew Berger, who apprehended a man who brazenly stole a laptop computer from his Clinton Township agency, police said.
Berger, a detective in the juvenile division, was off-duty when he tackled and arrested Ivory Smith along Gratiot Avenue moments after Smith stole the laptop from the office of the executive director of Arc Services of Macomb, according to police.
“I’m real glad Andrew Berger was there,” Tunney said. “If he wasn’t there, he (Smith) probably would’ve gotten away. He would’ve probably done the same thing to someone else, probably that night.”
Clinton Township police Capt. Richard Maierle agreed.
“It was a great job by the officer,” Maierle said. “He will be getting an award from us.”
The arrest has added significance because Smith, 50, of Detroit, is suspected of stealing laptops from businesses in downtown Detroit, where two arrest warrants have been approved, and has a history of theft.
The incident occurred about 5 p.m. Friday when 15 to 20 developmentally disabled people were helping Arc officials prepare for a garage sale last weekend. Arc is a nonprofit agency that contracts with Macomb County Community Mental Health and other entities.
Tunney saw a man he had never seen before in the office of his boss, Executive Director Lisa Lepine, putting something in a bag. Tunney questioned him, and Smith replied, “I’m just here getting my stuff,” Tunney said. Smith, wearing a badge from a nursing home, claimed he was with “Jasper,” and a person named “Kat” told him he could “plug in” in the office.
“He was calm and cool, like he was supposed to be there,” Tunney said.
But his answers were vague and as Tunney questioned him further, Smith walked out of the office and continued into a hallway. Tunney yelled to another official, and Smith, realizing he was caught, pushed Tunney down in the rear warehouse area and ran out the back.
Tunney followed on foot, and after a short distance Smith dropped the laptop.
Meanwhile, Berger, who was with his wife at Lamia Restaurant across Barbret Street, saw what happened and chased Smith across Gratiot Avenue, tackling him on the other side. Smith resisted, initially refusing to cooperate; township police soon arrived.
Tunney also was commended by Maierle for his actions. If he hadn’t chased Smith, the accused thief may have escaped.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Tunney said. “I didn’t know what he had. That laptop has a lot of important data on it,” although it is “password protected.”
He said he’s surprised that Smith targeted Arc, particularily going to the director’s office.
“That was pretty gutsy,” he said. “(But) it’s not very nice to steal from a charitable organization.”
Smith said he injured his arm and wrist in the fall. X-rays determined he did not suffer broken bones.
He said he plans to write a letter to Roseville Police Chief James Berlin praising Berger.
“I just hope his dinner wasn’t interrupted,” Tunney said with a laugh.
Smith was formally charged in 41B District Court in Clinton Township with unarmed robbery and resisting arrest. He was being held in lieu of a $15,000 bond.
Smith was on parole for larceny between $1,000 and $20,000 in Wayne County for an October 2014 incident, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records.
His typical method is to gain access s to a building by wearing a maintenance-style shirt to pretend that he worked for a maintenance company, Maierle said.
Smith’s other six prior convictions include five larcenies, four in Oakland County and one in Wayne County, and one first-degree retail fraud in Oakland, state records say. He was in prison or on parole until 2012 following his last conviction in 2001, records say.