2017-06-18 / News

Father, daughter sentenced in Lapeer crime spree

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 •

LAPEER — A father and daughter from Flint have been sentenced in connection with a mini-crime spree across Lapeer County that involved stealing change and returnable bottles and cans.

John Walter Wilson, 41, was sentenced June 5 to at least 18 months in prison on three counts of breaking and entering a coin-operated device. Wilson also was ordered to pay $4,473 in court fines, costs, and restitution. He is a habitual offender with a previous breaking and entering conviction, along with absconding from probation.

Brooke Anne Pelzel, 25, was sentenced June 12 to 150 days in Lapeer County Jail on one count of breaking and entering, and a separate count of malicious destruction of property valued at between $200 and $1,000.

Pelzel, identified in court as Wilson’s biological daughter, also is a habitual offender who had been discharged from prison in August 2016 after spending more than a year behind bars for being convicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit third-degree home invasion in Gratiot County.

Court documents show the duo made their way from Attica Township to Metamora Township on Feb. 2, stopping along the way to steal returnable cans and money from coin-operating vending machines at car washes.

During questioning, and among other things, Wilson told police “he had just gotten some impatient itch because he needed some money.”

According to a transcript from the preliminary exam heard earlier this year by Lapeer County District Court Judge Byron Konschuh, the two started at Hickory Place Carwash, 5056 Lapeer Rd., Columbiaville.

Ryan Schapman, owner of Hickory Place, told the court that he first discovered he had been ripped off when he went to the car wash to perform regular maintenance and found machines destroyed.

“There was three of the vending machines (that) were damaged, locks were all busted off of, the coin boxes were laying on the ground,” he testified. “My carpet shampoo machine had been broken into. It looked like obviously a crowbar was used on it and also my fragrance machine.”

Schapman said there was blue paint all over the metal for the machines.

All of the coins that had been in the machines were gone, he said.

After burglarizing Hickory Place, the two moved on to North Branch Food Center, 3816 Huron, North Branch.

Beth Ann Haynes, of North Branch Food Center, said she discovered the door to a storage shed the store uses had been pried open and was dangling.

Haynes said the shed is typically locked and used to store deer feed, birdseed, and returnable cans and bottles.

“There was blue markings on there from something that was forcibly pulling the lock away from the door,” she told the court.

Det./Sgt. Jason Parks of the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. testified during the preliminary exam that Wilson later admitted to breaking into the shed and stealing the returnables.

Further, Wilson detailed how the burglary occurred, including the fact that his daughter was part of the operation as a driver.

“She stopped, let him out, he subsequently used the pry bar to compromise that lock and opened it up, entered that shed,” Parks said. “He said that once inside the shed he observed deer and birdfeed inside there, along with bottles. He removed the bottles. He called the person who gave him a ride to come back and pick him up, they stuck those bottles in there.”

Wilson and Pelzel also hit Top Notch Autowash, 3539 S. Lapeer Rd., in Metamora Township.

Surveillance cameras at Hickory Place and Top Notch captured images of Pelzel’s car, which eventually allowed investigators to track it down.

When police searched her vehicle, they found evidence in the trunk linking it to the break-in at North Branch Food Center.

Parks testified that Wilson ultimately “admitted involvement.”

Wilson used Top Notch as an example, noting “he walked over to the machines, actually opened them up, took coins out” and “that it was him and his daughter, they were out driving.”

The respective sentencings of Wilson and Pelzel were a result of plea deals both accepted in May.

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