Man on GPS tether from previous crime arrested for stealing gun, $30K worth of diamonds in Utica

Mike Thornton traced through GPS tether during parole

UTICA, Mich. – Police said a man was arrested two weeks ago after he stole $30,000 worth of diamonds and a gun from a man who advertised them online.

Police said they tracked the criminal because he was on parole and had a GPS tether from a previous conviction.

The incident began outside a Dave and Buster's, where a man tried to sell a bag filled with $30,000 worth of diamonds to another man.

"Originally it appeared someone stole (the diamonds by breaking) into the Jared's, is how I understood the call to be coming out," Utica Detective Greg Morabito said.

Police said the seller posted an online ad for the diamonds two weeks ago, with photos of the rings and necklaces included.

The seller and Mike Thornton, 27, met in the parking lot of Dave and Buster's, and Thornton asked for more time to get the money, police said. When the two men parted ways, Thornton followed the seller, who parked outside Jared's Jewelers and went inside, police said.

Thornton smashed the back window of the seller's SUV and grabbed the bag of jewelry. He also grabbed a gun from inside the SUV, police said.

But the diamond seller knew who Thornton was, and Morabito discovered Thornton was on parole with a GPS tether, police said.

Morabito called the Michigan Department of Corrections, which easily traced the man to his house in Redford Township. Police kicked down the door and arrested Thornton, but the diamonds weren't there.

"By the time we made the arrest, the transaction happened in another city," Morabito said. "In Pontiac."

Officials said they were able to track Thornton's movements to a pawn shop in Pontiac, where they recovered the diamonds.

In all, the entire incident took just a few hours.

Thornton is charged with larceny of $20,000 and larceny of a gun. If convicted, he's expected to spend many years in prison because of his criminal history.

Thornton has also been convicted of felony larceny, vehicle theft, assaulting and resisting a police officer and retail fraud.

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.