March 21 06:05 AM

Rural homes perfect targets for thieves during holiday season

Suspect sought in string of B&Es caught with a truckload of goods

January 02, 2008
LAPEER COUNTY — While most of us enjoyed a brief reprieve over the Christmas holiday, it was business as usual for Lapeer County Sheriff deputies.

Lt. Detective Gary Parks said criminals don't take time off for the holidays. And too often, they use them to their advantage.

Parks said sheriff's deputies and local police agencies are often busy during the holidays, as opportunistic thieves schedule their break-ins for times when residents are not home.

"We've had an influx of these types of crimes," said Parks. "These guys tend to target people in the rural counties. There are still a lot of trusting people out here who don't lock their doors. They're easy targets."

Parks cited last Friday's (Dec. 21) arrest of Aaron Alan Strachan, an individual linked to a series of break-ins in Lapeer, St. Clair and Genesee counties, as an example of someone who preys on absent homeowners.

"This guy (Strachan) is a parole violator and repeat offender who was breaking into a lot of homes in October," said Parks. "We got a tip that he was hiding out in New Orleans, where he could blend in with all the transients down there."

Parks said Strachan was arrested Friday, Dec. 21 in Genesee County, where he was driving a stolen truck that contained goods taken from a residence near Ubly.

Genesee County Sheriff Lt. Kevin Shanlian said the stolen items found in the truck included power tools, jewelry, a television and coins, among other items.

"That truck was filled to the brim," said Shanlian. "At his motel room we found handguns and other items taken from another break-in."

Lt. Shanlian said the suspect admitted to numerous home invasions in Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac and Huron counties, dating back to May of 2007.

"He said he couldn't remember all of them," said Shanlian, "but he gave us the details on about 15 or 16 B&Es."

Shanlian said Strachen targeted secluded rural homes, many of them a distance from the road or camouflaged by trees.

"If he didn't see any cars, he would go up, knock on the door and if no one responded, he would check to see if there was an easy access," said Lt. Shanlian. "If not, he would break in."

Shanlian said that one of the homes Strachen broke into in Lapeer County had an alarm system and was generally well fortified. However, that didn't stop the suspect from entering.

"He told us that everything was locked up tight, but that he was able to squeeze through a doggie door," said Shanlian. "Even when you do all the right things, these guys can still get in."

If Strachan is found guilty of the multiple home invasions, he could be sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

"He's facing a lot of years," added Shanlian.

Lt. Parks said that because the break-ins took place in so many jurisdictions, Strachan has yet to be arraigned in Lapeer County.

"He will be charged," said Parks. "At one of the break-ins, he left a coat behind with evidence that linked him to that crime."

Parks added that Strahan's father, Charles Alan Strahan, is also being sought for having participated in the break-ins.

"He is believed to still be in Louisiana," said Parks.

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