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Beline Obeid

July 11, 2013
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — A flattering movie prospect faded into a bad scene for the owners of a house on Elm Court.

At about the time a location scout was granted unsupervised access to photograph the property, a burglary happened, according to police.

With aid of a citizen's tip minutes after the crime was reported at 11:19 p.m. Saturday, July 6, officers arrested a 52-year-old man from Demopolis, Ala.

A patrolman found him walking eastbound on Lakeshore near Sunset Lane, roughly two blocks from the crime scene.

"(He) stated he had taken a bus from Alabama to Michigan within the past three or four days," said Officer James Corbett. "He stated he had been on the streets since his arrival with no place to stay."

Corbett noted the suspect wore dry clothes and shoes despite steady rain that night.

"This did not appear consistent with the story he was providing and the current weather conditions," Corbett said.

The suspect has a history of burglary, according to police.

The movie scout, employed by a production company in Detroit, isn't a suspect.

"The scout said he Googled the location looking for houses in a rich community by the lake," Rosati said. "He looked for houses with a swimming pool. (The homeowners) felt comfortable with it."

Police don't endorse homeowners granting strangers access to their property.

"(The homeowners) let him in the house and went off to work or something," Rosati said. "I would never let somebody come in my house and photograph it."

The homeowners' 23-year-old daughter was on site Saturday dogsitting, she told police.

She'd gone from 4:30 and 11:10 p.m., although her grandmother was at the house gardening from 6 to 6:45 p.m., the daughter reportedly told police.

Upon returning, the daughter saw an open side door from the garage to the house.

"She went inside, noticed things were out of place and called police," said Officer Jason Newberg. "(I) observed a broken window screen and open window from the rear patio into the dining room The only things that appeared to be missing were five-to-seven antique books, unknown titles or value, from a shelf in the living room."

Cold food from the refrigerator was on the kitchen island counter.

Rosati considered the food persuasive evidence, given the suspect claimed to walk to the Pointes from the Greyhound station on the far side of downtown Detroit.

"The man is homeless and hungry," Rosati said.

The books haven't been found. Rosati doubts a homeless person would steal books instead of more marketable valuables that could be hocked easier for cash.

"I think they'll find those books in the house," Rosati said. "The homeowners are away, so they haven't been able to check the house."

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