Sheriff: Michigan crop heists are a ‘major league operation’

DETROIT (AP) — A “well-organized machine” of thieves appears to be behind the theft of tons of apples and pumpkins from orchards and farms in Michigan and Indiana, according to authorities.

An estimated 7,000 pounds of apples were discovered missing Oct. 10 from Spicer Orchards in Fenton. During the same week, 1,000 pumpkins were pilfered from McCallum’s Orchard in Jeddo, north of Port Huron. There were also 50,000 apples reportedly stolen from Williams Orchard in LaPorte County, Indiana.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell told the Detroit Free Press that investigators do not have any suspects, but he believes the thefts were committed by a professional group.

“This is a major league operation,” he said. “This is a team of pickers — a well-organized machine — with a way to put the stolen crops on the market.”

Officials with Spicer Orchards said they will strengthen security with cameras and alarms, hoping to prevent future thieves.

Shannon Rowe, co-owner of Spicer Orchards, said the crop thefts are frustrating because “you only have a few weeks to make your living for the entire year.”

“Christmas isn’t going to be so nice this year,” she said. “We just hope that what we have on our main farm will help get us through.”

Chairs removed from Mott’s Flint campus after bedbugs found

FLINT (AP) — Mott Community College officials say bedbug-infested chairs have been removed from a student lounge on the Flint campus.

The college says the chairs were removed for treatment to kill the insects after they were found Thursday on the chairs in the Mott Memorial Building’s student lounge.

The bedbug find on the Flint campus follows the discovery of bedbugs earlier this month in a high school classroom in the Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools, which is also in Genesee County, reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all consider bedbugs a public health pest. But, unlike most public health pests, bedbugs are not known to transmit or spread disease.

Detroit-area police officer charged with criminal sexual conduct

WATERFORD TWP. (AP) — A Detroit-area police officer faces criminal sexual conduct charges stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred last year.

Waterford Township Officer Kevin Thompson is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct. Thompson, 29, is scheduled for an Oct. 28 court appearance in Genesee County on the charges, which stem from an alleged December 2018 incident in Grand Blanc while he was off-duty.

Township police said Thompson was placed on unpaid administrative leave in May, immediately after he was charged. Waterford Township Police Chief Scott Underwood said the two-year department veteran “will remain on leave without pay until there is some resolution in the pending case.”

Retired judge is hired as a prosecutor in northern Michigan

CHARLEVOIX (AP) — A retired judge is back in court on the other side of the bench in northern Michigan.

Peter O’Connell has been hired as an assistant prosecutor in Charlevoix County. He was a Michigan appeals court judge for more than 20 years and a judge in Isabella County District Court for another 15 years.

O’Connell joked that Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof is “giving a senior citizen a second chance.” The Boyne City resident said retirement is “not the place for someone with a type A personality.”

O’Connell will handle the county’s District Court docket. He couldn’t run for re-election to the appeals court because he turned 70.

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