DETROIT (WWJ) – Someone is preying on utility workers in Detroit and officials are hoping a cash reward will lead police to the suspect.
DTE Energy says three of its crews were robbed at gunpoint while tending to storm-related repairs over the past few days on the city’s west side.
“I’ve got to tell you, our workers are very hard workers,” said Michael Lynch, DTE director of security. “They’re working on high voltage, energized conductors and they’re putting in long hours to get our customers restored and yet we’ve had these three incidents.”
The first incident happened Saturday afternoon near Schoolcraft Road and the Southfield Freeway. The suspect reportedly approached the crew and demanded money and cell phones. The suspect took off after the robbery and police were called in to survey the area so crews could continue their repairs.
The other two incidents happened on Monday just a couple of hours apart. Around 4:30 p.m., crews were working near Livernois and McNichols when a man approached and asked if they knew the time, before pulling out a gun and robbing the four workers of their cash and wallets.
Two hours later, a man fitting the suspect’s description held up a crew of five workers at 7 Mile and the Lodge Freeway.
Officials aren’t yet sure if the same suspect is targeting crews, but say it’s very likely. Crews have been out in the neighborhoods since Saturday, when 158,000 customers lost electric service due to high winds and rain.
“We’re working with the police department hand-in-glove, so we have the police department out there in the field as well as our security team to make sure our workers are protected,” said Lynch.
DTE trucks do not have security cameras, so they don’t have any images of the suspect — but Lynch isn’t too concerned.
“I feel very confident that these perpetrators are going to be identified for two reasons. One is I work real closely with Assistant Chief [Steve] Dolunt and I know his commitment to the city and resolving these kinds of issues,” he said. “But also, we’re offering an unprecedented $2,500 reward for persons that identify the suspects in this case. That’s cash.”
Lynch reiterated that DTE crews do not carry cash and are encouraged not to take valuables with them.
The company is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted to DTE’s security department at 313-235-9113, or Detroit police at 313-267-4600.