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Posted on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Work van stolen from hospital parking lot recovered in Detroit; $12,000 to $15,000 in equipment gone

By Pete Cunningham

William Roberts walked out of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township last week just in time to see his work van being stolen from the hospital parking lot.

Roberts, an electrician for Dan Del Zoppo Electric in Ann Arbor, had no trouble identifying the vehicle as it pulled out of the lot. After all, it had the company’s unmistakable logo emblazoned on the side of it.

The logo didn’t help the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s department in catching the thieves, it did lead to the van's recovery.

A man called the company the next day after seeing the van parked in front of his grandmother’s home near Warren Avenue and Mount Elliot Street in Detroit.

Dan Del Zoppo and employee Harold Piehutkoski drove to Detroit to recover the van and found all the equipment gone. Del Zoppo estimated the value of the vehicle’s contents to be between $12,000 and $15,000. Though the locks and seat covers had been removed and the ignition damaged, the vehicle itself, a 2006 Ford E-250, was relatively intact.

“We were fortunate the young man called us,” Del Zoppo said. “If it had gone another night I’m sure the tires, catalytic converter — all the stuff — would have been gone.”

Roberts, an electrician for Del Zoppo for 13 years, said he was in the hospital, 5301 McAuley Drive, for roughly an hour, visiting a patient.

“I came out and just watched it drive away,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t tell who was driving, I could just see that it was leaving.”

The investigation remains open.

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Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:51 a.m.

I've done construction work in several Detroit hospitals and vehicle theft from the parking lots seems to be a big issue at many of them. I'm not sure why the thieves target hospital parking lots. Maybe because there's not as much foot traffic as at the malls so they can do their work without interruption. I think the security dept. at St. Joe's will have to consider this a "wake up call" and start to implement a plan to battle vehicle theft. Nothing wrong with being proactive...


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Last week saw a group of four catalytic converter thieves from Detroit arrested in Ann Arbor. This week we have car thieves/equipment thieves from Detroit (slight assumption here) active in the Ann Arbor area. Increased distance from I-94 will soon be a priority if these types of thefts become a trend.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Interesting, this exact thing just happened to my friend working in Detroit a few days ago. They got his catalytic converter though.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

When I see the name "Dan Del Zoppo" I can't help but think of Dave Del Dotto.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Nothing surprises me any more. Thugs and punks are hanging around all kinds of places these days waiting for a crime of opportunity. I see people sitting in vans in many parking lots all over the area, some might be waiting for a spouse to shop, and others, I'm not so sure. Whatever you do, don't put something valuable in your trunk before going into a store. Too many "eyes" sitting in vans in parking lots. I hope this individual had insurance to cover his loss.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

Just up the street from the Capuchin soup kitchen. The mind boggles.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Are you blaming this on the Capuchins?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

I don't believe for a minute that Webster left the keys in the van. Big thank you to the person that saw the van in Detroit. (and made the call) Also good eye Webster!


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

I'd like to know if this is a case of hot wiring or the mistake of leaving the keys in the car. Obviously the man might be embarrassed if it's the latter but it's definitely worthy of being reported.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Given that the story reports that the ignition was damaged I'd guess that it was jimmied with a screwdriver or similar tool. That being said, I'm not sure why it's "worthy of being reported" unless you want to shame someone for being careless (and there's no indication of that in the story that was the case, so why speculate?). I think most adults, especially adults dealing with company property, know that leaving keys in an unattended vehicle isn't too smart, again, what's the point of assuming or wondering about the victim?