Crime lab becomes hideout for armed robbers, thugs

Brush Park Crime LabDetroit’s abandoned crime lab has become a crime scene.

Thieves and thugs are hiding in the gutted, graffiti-strewn building in Brush Park and striking residents and Tigers fans who park in the area. The culprits recently robbed three people at gunpoint and have broken into countless cars, according to neighbors and police who patrol the area.

“I don’t feel safe here anymore,” Susan Lee, who lives nearby, told me.  “I’ve seen them running into the (crime lab). It’s a haven for mischief.”

The demise of the crime lab is mired in dysfunction, mismanagement and misplaced priorities. Police closed the lab in 2009 because of sloppy investigations, but they left behind evidence, live ammunition and criminal records. Someone broke into the building two years later, a discovery I made while a reporter at the Detroit Free Press. The city responded by hiring a company to guard the building, but once the media lost interest, the guards were gone.
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Starting last summer, scrappers began gutting the building of anything of value, turning it into an eyesore in an area trying to make a comeback. The building is bathed in graffiti. Every window is shattered.

Residents said they’ve pleaded with city officials to demolish the building but to no avail.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.