Cars are being stolen right out of driveways in Detroit, even caught on camera, and victims say they are not getting the help they need.
Is there a bigger crime going on that now has Detroit police investigating their own?
Under the cover of darkness on Detroit’s west side, the thieves moved fast.
Monica Drake-Howard was fast asleep when her 2015 Ford Edge vanished – but her home surveillance system was watching.
When she ran to the police in the morning and filed a report, she says they weren’t interested. Also baffling, the Detroit Public Schools employee says police suggested where she could find her car.
Sure enough – “We rode down and, right before we got to Schaefer, I saw my car in the alley,” she says.
From there, things only got more bizarre. When Drake-Howard told cops she found her car, she says they sent an officer and dispatched a private tow truck.
Livernois Collision scooped up her Ford Edge – that was now missing all of its wheels and most of its windows. She wouldn’t see her car again until two days later, when authorities raided the tow yard – for reasons that are still unclear – and told her to come get her car.
Monica says you don’t have to be a detective to know something’s not right.
She’s not the only one convinced something else is going on.
Last month, Ryah Chambliss’ 2015 Dodge Charger was taken out of her cousin’s driveway on the city’s west side while she too was sleeping.
Like Monica, she filed a report with police – and was told where she might be able to find her car.
Sure enough, she did - but it was too late. Video from a nearby business shows thieves stripping her Charger and a tow truck eventually coming to take it away.
But here’s where it gets weird. Ryah says the car was towed away before she even reported her car stolen.
Later that day, an officer told Ryah her car was at the tow lot, so she went and was told yet another story.
Ryah and her cousin have since filed complaints with the police department and the Office of Inspector General. Their accusation:
"I think there’s some type of scheme going on with the DPD auto theft unit," she says.
Detroit Police tell 7 Action News an internal investigation is underway.
Police stress the number of stolen cars is going down in Detroit. In 2013, there were 12,229; 2014, 10,356; Last year, 7,938 and so far this year, 1,603.
We’re told investigators are also using new technology like plate readers to combat thieves.
Still, it’s little comfort to Monica who says she’s lost trust in the department and is ready to move out of the city.
Again, police say there is an internal investigation underway and they say you can help them.
If this has happened to you or someone you know, they want you to call the Office of the Chief Investigator at 313-596-2499.