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Beline Obeid

Man with cane whacks pickpocket

Accused pickpocket, Jeffrey Darnell Jones II, at the defendant's table. Grosse Pointe Farms PSO Matthew Hurner, left, and Detective Bryan Ford handle paperwork in the case. photo by Brad Lindberg.

April 03, 2014
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — A 72-year-old man used his cane to beat back a 250-pound alleged pickpocket last week outside the front entrance to a building on the Hill.

Police converging on the central business district quickly arrested the suspect, a 23-year-old Eastpointe man.

They said he shares the criminal bent of Charles Dicken's Artful Dodger, but none of the literary character's stealth and dexterity.

"This guy's no Jack-be-nimble," said Detective Lt. Richard Rosati.

The suspect, Jeffrey Darnell Jones II, was arraigned Friday, March 28, in Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court for attempted larceny from a person.

"This is a felony," said Judge Matthew Rumora. "It carries up to five years in the state prison."

The day before, at 11:36 a.m., Thursday, March 27, dispatchers received a 911 call about someone trying to rob an elderly man at 131 Kercheval.

The building contains a bank branch and medical offices at the corner of Muir.

"(The victim) stated he observed the suspect on foot in front of him 'lingering near the building,'" said Officer Traci Johnson, among the first officers on scene.

As the man turned to open the door, Jones allegedly reached into the man's front pocket and tried to take his wallet.

"The victim struck the suspect with his cane and (the) suspect backed away, saying, 'I was just kidding,'" Johnson said.

The man, of Harper Woods, entered the bank and asked for help, prompting the 911 call.

Lt. Jack Patterson and City of Grosse Pointe Officer Greg Burks caught Jones one block away on McMillan just north of Kercheval.

"From the time of the call to the time the suspect being in custody was six minutes," Patterson said. "A pickpocket is a first in my 31 years (with the Farms)."

"We used to get them a lot in Eastern Market when I worked for Detroit," said Rosati. "We don't get them much around here."

Officers took Jones to headquarters.

"The victim positively identified him," said Detective Bryan Ford during the arraignment. "Jones admitted to me that he did attempt to take the victim's wallet from his pocket."

Security video from the office building supports the charge, police said.

"Jones was there for a doctor appointment and, he told me, was waiting for a ride home," Ford said. "I believe that to be true. But, whatever the reason he committed that act, I'm still not sure."

Rumora entered a plea of not guilty on Jones' behalf.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for noon Wednesday, April 9.

Jones said he lives with his mother and younger brother. He quit high school half way through 11th grade.

"It was too difficult," he told Rumora.

His intermittent employment history includes working two days last month at a tire store, he said.

"I think it was a cash job," Ford said.

Jones has no documented criminal record, police said.

"The only thing on his history is an outstanding traffic warrant out of Detroit," Ford said.

When setting bond, Rumora considered the alleged victim's age, the "broad daylight" nature of the alleged crime and Jones' failure to comply with a court-ordered hearing on a Detroit traffic offense.

Rumora set bond at $5,000 cash surety, meaning Jones must post the entire amount to avoid detention in the Wayne County Jail until the preliminary hearing.

Ford guided Jones through paperwork to apply for a court-appointed defense lawyer.

"Sign right there," Ford said, wrapping up the process.

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