Liquor stores besieged by robbers on Detroit's east side

Business owners said police don't do enough about robberies

DETROIT – Detroit liquor store owners said their pleas for protection are falling on deaf ears, and a string of robberies won't stop.

Most of the robberies follow the same pattern: Thieves slam through the wall with a truck and help themselves to everything inside. It's a disturbing trend for business owners and police officers, and now, the question is whether it's the same crew, or the new norm for store break-ins.

There have been five crash-and-grabs in Detroit over the past three weeks, and there's no sign they will let up. The fifth incident happened Monday morning on Gratiot Avenue.

"They walk in, take the stuff," store owner Husam Zay said. "They're not scared of police."

Zay said three men were methodical when they used a trash bin to load up alcohol and anything else they could grab from the store. When they were done, one man drove the pickup truck while the others walked away from the scene, one with two cases of booze.

"He walks away with two cases," Zay said. "He's not scared."

It was a far cry from last week's crime scenes, when three-man crews frantically stuffed liquor in their pants and scooped alcohol off of shelves only to see most of it end up on the floor.

"They did it at five to six stores, and nobody catches them," Zay said. "Especially, it happened in Detroit only."

Business owners aren't waiting around for the trend to get worse. When a liquor store got hit on East 8 Mile Road in March, the store was rebuilt with concrete barriers out front.

"The police detectives didn't do anything," Zay said.

Storefronts seem to double as last straws for frustrated owners who claim police only show up when they've done something wrong.

"All the good things the police and the mayor are good for is for them to send decoys for me to get a ticket for selling tobacco or alcohol to the minors," Zay said.

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