The Macomb Auto Theft Squad (MATS) is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of investigators from the Macomb County Sheriffs Office, Clinton Township Police Department, St. Clair Shores Police Department, Sterling Heights Police Department, Shelby Township Police Department, Roseville Police Department, Chesterfield Township and the Warren Police Department. The Macomb County Prosecutor's Office assigns a full time assistant prosecutor to the squad to prosecute all cases generated by M.A.T.S. and to initiate forfeiture proceedings as mandated by law. Throughout Macomb County, the Macomb Auto Theft Squad investigates car-jackings, stolen vehicles, vehicles taken without permission, failure to return rental vehicles, chop shops, vehicle title frauds, odometer frauds, vehicles with disguise identities, vehicles purchased with fraudulent information, false police reports, insurance fraud, counterfeit insurance certificates /plates/ licenses and repair/salvage facility violations.
MATS is funded in part by the Automobile Theft Prevention Authority of the State of Michigan (ATPA), the County of Macomb, and the law enforcement agencies with officers assigned to the squad. The tax payers of Macomb County contribute 42 cents per year (per resident) for its operation. The State of Michigan assesses each insured, non-commercial passenger vehicle $1 annually through the insurance companies. The money collected is then turned over to the ATPA and dispersed to fund the auto theft task forces throughout Michigan. Without this funding supporting the efforts of auto theft detectives, most auto theft units in the state of Michigan would be eliminated. Since the inception of the ATPA in 1987, auto thefts in Michigan have dropped by 31%. Nationally, thefts decreased only 2.6% for the same time period. National and state officials have agreed the ATPA is a major reason for Michigan's impressive decline in auto theft, and several states have followed Michigan’s lead and have enacted ATPA legislation to decrease their auto theft problems.
Today’s economic environment has also impacted the increase in insurance fraud. Individuals who feel they can no longer afford to maintain their vehicles or those who simply wish to get out from under a hefty payment are turning to the crime of insurance fraud by falsely reporting their vehicles stolen to the police and to their insurance companies. As well as being a felony crime, insurance fraud directly impacts all citizens by increasing all of our insurance rates.
In 2016, the Macomb Auto Theft Squad received the prestigious Robert Sattler Award at the 45th Annual Midwest Motor Vehicle Conference which was held in Des Moines, Iowa. The award was presented to MATS in recognition of a theft investigation involving illegally obtained keys that were used to steal vehicles. MATS was able to arrest and charge two subjects with 6 counts of auto theft, and recovered 6 stolen motorcycles.
Macomb Auto Theft Squad (M.A.T.S) received a HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Theft) tip in July of 2015. The tipster stated that they were aware of a residence in St. Clair Shores that was storing stolen motorcycles. The tipster provided specific details that were verified by MATS Detectives. MATS Detectives with the assistance of St. Clair Shores Police Department set up surveillance on the residence and observed a motorcycle pull up and park on the grass in front of the residence, which is a civil infraction in St. Clair Shores. A St. Clair Shores Officer was issuing a ticket for the violation and noticed the VIN to be suspicious and for the engine number on the motorcycle to be ground down. This led to the motorcycle to be impounded and was found to have stolen parts on it. A search warrant was completed based on this evidence and the tipster’s information, which led to two arrests and the recovery of 5 more stolen motorcycles from surrounding counties. The tipster was a key factor on this case and was awarded the amount of $10,000.00 for the information given.
In late January 2016, the MATS office received a tip from LEEDS ON LINE with regards to a large volume of aluminum wheels that were being scrapped in Macomb County. MATS Detectives began an investigation in this matter. During the course of said investigation it was discovered that one or more employees of a local wheel and tire company were possible suspects. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the employees were taking aluminum wheels that were supposed to go to a contracted scrap company. Both employees would scrap the aluminum wheels and keep the money for themselves. As the investigation continues, the current amount of scrap aluminum taken is $403,967.19.
The Macomb Auto Theft Squad meets the challenges of an ever changing criminal element and is constantly faced with new and elaborate schemes portrayed by criminals. With the age of technology and home computers, no longer is it just the common car thief stealing a parked vehicle. Citizens and businesses are being targeted with identify theft, fraudulent documents and illegal business practices. The internet has opened a new door used to sell stolen vehicles that are retagged to hide the fact that they are stolen. If you are buying a car on-line and the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If you suspect that you may have encountered a stolen vehicle, either on line or on the street, contact the Macomb Auto Theft Squad.
MATS investigators can often be found speaking at community groups and organizations with information on how to protect yourself from auto theft related crimes. If your organization is interested in a MATS representative at one of your meetings, contact the MATS office for further information.