Michigan House Republicans
Townhall highlights increasing robberies by international crime syndicates
RELEASE|May 14, 2024
Contact: Donni Steele

Rep. Steele attended the Oakland County event that drew more than 200

State Rep. Donni Steele on Monday participated in a town hall meeting to discuss organized gangs targeting homes in Oakland County. Over 200 people attended the meeting, hosted by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard at the Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills. Bloomfield Township Police Chief James Gallagher and Captain Tom Van Simaeys of the Bloomfield Hills Department of Public Safety also attended.

Officials in southeast Michigan say teams of criminals from Central and South America are taking advantage of the border crisis and weak federal immigration laws to enter the U.S. and break into homes in wealthy neighborhoods. By targeting high-end homes, the international criminals have stolen millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry, cash, and other items.

“I don’t think people realize the full extent of what’s happening in Oakland County,” said Steele, R-Orion Township. “The number of people at the town hall showed just how scared people are. Homeowners in Oakland County are living in constant fear that their homes may be next on the hit list. This is the kind of fear that makes you jump at every shadow you see in the window and go to sleep with the lights on.”

Bouchard warned that the international gangs arrive in teams sent intentionally for robberies. He noted that each gang member has a backpack with specialized equipment, including breaching tools, alarm jams, and more.

Steele recently pledged her support for a House Republican plan to target criminals illegally entering the country on behalf of transnational criminal organizations.

House Bill 5650 will increase penalties for crimes committed to benefit transnational crime organizations, like those targeting communities in Oakland County. It also increases penalties for felonies committed by individuals who return to the country illegally after being deported.

“We’re not talking about kids stealing stuff out of a garage. These are professional criminals who illegally entered our country to wreak havoc on our communities,” Steele said. “The federal government is failing us on every level. If they won’t do their jobs, the burden falls on us. Our local law enforcement is doing everything they can to fight these gangs. Now, those of us at the state level need to step up and give them the tools to throw the book at international criminals who target our communities.”

House Bill 5650 was referred to the House Government Operations Committee.


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