Police snuff out illegal fireworks sales

Photo by J. Patrick Pepper

Photo by J. Patrick Pepper


Dearborn Heights police officers douse some of the illegal fireworks seized during an enforcement crackdown prior to Fourth of July weekend. Three Heights businesses were ticketed as a result of the operation.

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — It was a seasonal assignment for the Police Department’s directed patrol unit: seek and destroy illegal fireworks.

In the week leading up to the Fourth of July, the unit cited at least three businesses for possession and sale of illegal explosive devices, and along the way seized a cache of things that go boom.

Michigan law prohibits the sale of “firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, Roman candles, daygo bombs, bottle rockets, whistling chasers, rockets on sticks, (and) other fireworks of like construction.”

In other words, if a novelty device makes a loud bang, leaves the ground, spins or twirls, it is illegal. The penalty is a misdemeanor charge carrying a maximum sentence and fine of 90 days in jail and $500, respectively.

The operation consisted of plainclothes officers from the four-man DPU soliciting businesses for illegal fireworks. It was easy twice, like at Video Express, 24715 Warren.

There, about 6:30 p.m. June 30, an officer walked in and saw in plain view a display of firecrackers and bottle rockets, according to police. The officer then asked the store attendant the obligatory question: Do you have anything more powerful in the back room?

The attendant replied affirmatively and soon came back with a package of mortars and a mortar tube, police said. The officer said he wanted to buy $250 worth of the charges, or 25 cases. After returning from the back room once again, the attendant presented eight cases, saying that was all he had left. Other officers then entered the store and issued the ticket.

A day earlier, the bust at Dollar Treasure, 25605 Joy, was similarly obvious. An officer walked in and immediately noticed a number of illegal fireworks on display, police said. After asking the owner if he had anything else that wasn’t on display, the owner showed him the back room, where there were mortar cakes, Roman candles, and bottle rockets, police said. The man subsequently was ticketed and the fireworks seized.

The only cited establishment that didn’t have the items in plain view was City Market, 25635 Warren. Acting on a tip, an officer entered and began to inspect the fireworks on display. As he did so the owner of the store approached and offered to sell him Roman candles, mortars and bottle rockets, police said. The man then was ticketed.

All of the seized explosives were taken to the police station for destruction.