AmericaJR.com has learned there have been seven cases of larcenies reported from vehicles parked at or around Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport from September through November 2009. There were many more larcenies that were not reported to the police.Hotel parking lots have the highest amount of crime because they do not have high fences and 24/7 security. Now is a great time for a safety lesson because Christmas is only nine days away. Holiday traffic will increase at the airport over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve weekends.
We’ve received e-mails and reports from people coming back to town finding their cars missing, items stolen, GPS devices gone, and tires being removed from their cars.
“In regards to the parking lots, I know we’ve been getting reports of break-ins at the hotels,” said Tim Burns, public affairs director of the Better Business Bureau’s Eastern Michigan division. “The hotel business is focused on making sure people are safe within their building, not necessarily within the parking lot. A lot of those facilities have people coming and going and may not be as lighted. Their focus is not really protecting the cars, but making sure you have a safe experience within their building.”
AmericaJR.com submitted freedom of information requests to obtain police reports from the Romulus Police Department and the Wayne County Airport Authority, which oversees Detroit Metropolitan Airport. We asked for reports of cars/trucks/SUVs that were vandalized and/or stolen from the Detroit Metro Airport parking structures, U.S. Park, Quik Park, Airlines Parking and Park-N-Go over the last three months.
“I would say you don’t really have a lot to worry about if you park at one of our facilities here at Detroit Metropolitan Airport,” said Michael Conway, public affairs director for the Wayne County Airport Authority. “I asked our police department to scan those statistics for the past six months. In that space of time, we’ve handled 16 or 17 million passengers, who knows how many employees, meeters and greeters, probably close to 25 million people. We’ve had no stolen vehicles out of either of our structures, and we’ve had three larcenies from a vehicle.”
9/3/09 – 3:29 a.m. Baymont Inn Hotel 9600 Wickham Rd.
-Semi-automatic hand gun stolen, Kenwood DVD player stolen
9/18/09 – 10:52 a.m. U.S. Park 9601 Middlebelt Rd.
-Garmin 200W stolen from a Ford Edge SUV
10/23/09 – 12:03 a.m. Quality Inn Hotel 9555 Middlebelt Rd.
-Garmin GPS stolen, 2 pairs of Oakley Sunglasses stolen and a blue Apple iPod stolen
10/23/09 – 12:30 a.m. Quality Inn Hotel 9555 Middlebelt Rd.
-Eddie Bauer vest stolen, London Fog 3/4 coat stolen, CD case with 25 CDs inside stolen
Source: Romulus Police Department
9/11/09 – 8:55 a.m. DTW McNamara Structure
-$5,000 woman’s gold diamond ring stolen from the Valet desk on level 6
10/19/09 – 5:01 p.m. DTW McNamara Structure
-Both driver windows smashed on a Chrysler Fifth Avenue
10/25/09 – 5:11 p.m. DTW McNamara Structure
-Both driver windows smashed on a 2002 Chevy Truck
10/27/09 – 4:50 p.m. DTW McNamara Structure
-Passenger front window broken, passenger rear door found ajar on a 2010 Lincoln MKZ
10/30/09 – 6:46 p.m. DTW Big Blue Deck Structure
-Mirror broken, hanging; bumper was keyed on a 2002 Saturn
Source: Wayne County Airport Authority
“One thing you can do to protect your contents, even though we have a very low crime rate here, things can still happen,” Conway added. “What you want to do is remove the temptation from the criminal. So if you leave valuables laying around in the car in plain view, you’re providing a temptation for a criminal. If you see a laptop or a fur coat or some cash sitting on the seat, they might decide on the spur of the moment decide they’re going to break into the car.”
Here are some tips to keep you and your vehicle safe so that you don’t become the next target for crime.
“What you need to do is look out to see what is the most secure area,” Burns said. “Most cases, it will be a private parking lot that has fencing around it, it will also have some lighting and security people around to make sure people aren’t breaking into your cars.”
Park ‘n Go (at 31555 Wick Road) is also another hotspot for crime. We got e-mails and complaints from travelers saying there is a huge opening in the fence, hubcaps were being stolen off cars, one car was found on blocks and one person returned from a trip and found out their vehicle was completely stolen.
“The lot has a fence but is always open,” said TripAdvisor.com member monkeycat5 from Ohio. “Our hubcaps were stolen and another car was on blocks having had their tires stolen! There is not a secure parking lot for their Park and Fly.”
“When we returned from Florida, ten days later, we found our van had been stolen,” said TripAdvisor.com member trackandccoach form Detroit. “The police officer also stated thefts were a problem in the area. I would recommend leaving your car in a gated, secured lot and avoid and hotel park and fly offers.”
“When we returned, we were shocked to find our car had been sitting for two weeks unlocked with the keys in it,” said Citysearch.com member Fleetwood72. “We were upset and the driver became quite rude when we asked if it had been sitting unlocked for two weeks. We decided to take this up to the manager on duty. We asked for the owners name and he would not give them to us, but said we could call back and talk to him later.”
A traveler stayed at the Quality Inn Hotel (at 9555 Middlebelt Road) and got their car broken into. “We left our car for five days and returned to a smashed car,” said TripAdvisor.com member kirkland2 form London, Ontario. “Of course, no security, no one saw anything and the hotel would not take responsibility.”
I confronted the manager of the Quality Inn Hotel and asked him about any recent break-ins. “No, that never happened here,” the manager said. “I’ve had no problem. We have cameras all the time here. Oh, you mean on the lot? We don’t have cameras. But they don’t leave cars here. I believe there was one incident at the Days Inn. There was a drunk guy coming out of the bar. They kicked him out of the hotel and he start smashing the cars.”
He said the cars were smashed at the Days Inn Hotel next door, even though we had police reports that said otherwise. I went to the Days Inn Hotel (at 9501 Middlebelt Road) and asked the front desk manager about any recent break-ins.
“Oh, that’s next door at the Quality Inn,” said the front desk manager at the Days Inn Hotel. “No, not at all. I didn’t get anything. My general manager is the one that does the security. So I’ll have to call her. She said that she’s going to call you back. She’s in a meeting right now.”
It’s almost a month later and I still haven’t received a call back from the Days Inn Hotel.
How are conditions at the Baymont Inn & Suites Hotel (at 9000 Wickham Road)? Just as bad or worse.
“We had our tires stolen off my car while it was parked here for a week,” said TripAdvisor.com member bigcheesedriver from Ohio. “We parked directly under the parking light and had all four wheels stolen off my Impala. they called my husband the day before and told him my car was now on blocks. I did have to sign a paper before we left relieving them of all thefts. The shuttle driver told us when we returned that we were lucky, that the last people he brought back lost their whole car. I guess I was ‘lucky.'”
There are huge signs in the Baymont Inn parking lot that read: “Not responsible for lost or stolen items.”
I went inside the Baymont Inn & Suites Hotel to get some answers. “We don’t have security here,” the front desk person admits. “It’s all over the place. It’s not a secured area. Guests have a waiver that they sign whenever they check in, uh, stating they understand that this is not a secured lot. They’re leaving their vehicle here at their own risk. The manager’s actually in training right now. She wouldn’t be able to speak with you.”
The crime is so bad outside the Baymont hotel that all guests must sign a waiver that the hotel is not responsible to any damage to property. Guests can pay for one night and leave their car in the hotel’s parking lot for up to 10 days for an additional fee. Romulus Police says this program violates city ordinances.
“You don’t really want to park your car where people off the street have access to it easily,” said Burns of the BBB. “When you park at the hotel, you should look at a few things. How close is it to your room, how close is it to a visible location where other people could see someone fooling around or monkeying around with your car that could cause you a problem. And how lighted is it around it to make sure that people can’t sneak up to the car and get into it without someone in the area seeing them.”
Hotels are one of the unsafest places to park near the airport because they do not have high fences or 24/7 security.
The Howard Johnson Hotel (at 7600 Merriman Road) is also a hotspot for crime.
“We came back from our destination wedding/honeymoon after two and a half weeks to find my car had been broken into,” said TripAdvisor.com member drkatie1 from Erie, Penn. “The police told me it was the third time that week. Everything was stolen and my window was smashed. I wanted to stop people from walking into their lobby.”
I went inside the Howard Johnson Hotel to do some investigating. “Uh, they’re not in right now,” the front desk person said after I requested to speak with a manager.
“Our lots are lighted and fenced and they’re patrolled,” Conway said about the airport’s two parking structures. “The police patrol through, the parking lot management company provides patrols, and there’s any number of law enforcement folks that work here at the airport in other roles than to watch the parking lots but they’re moving through the baggage claim and through the parking facilities all the time. A lot of them are in plain clothes. There’s a lot of eyes watching you and the camera never sleeps. You’d have to be pretty stupid to try to commit a crime in a major, international airport.”
One of the safest places to park is at the Big Blue Deck, across from the North Terminal and the parking structure across from the McNamara Terminal.