Mayor Greg Ballard had his cell phone stolen Saturday evening while in Detroit, Mich. for the NCAA Final Four tournament.Initially, you can't help but laugh a little at the Mayor for falling for this old trick. I think I would have went on about my way and said as little about the incident as possible. News reporting of this incident will draw attention to the fact that the Mayor traveled outside the City yet again on a sports-related junket. He's taken in two Super Bowl games during his first two years in office. The argument for attending the Super Bowl has been to aid him in the City's hosting of its first Super Bowl in 2012. The City has hosted several Final Four games and has successfully mastered that event. So why did he attend the Final Four in Detroit? Who paid for the trip?
According to police reports, Mayor Ballard was walking back to his hotel after the asketball game on Saturday evening when a man acted as if he were having a seizure. At that point, Mayor Ballard went to offer assistance to the man on the ground. Upon doing so, two to three other male subjects immediately surrounded the mayor at which time one of the subjects reached into Mayor Ballard's pocket and stole his cell phone.
The man whom Mayor Ballard was attempting to help then suddenly got up and fled the scene with the other subjects. Almost immediately, Mayor Ballard realized that his phone had been taken.
The Detroit Police Department was notified. They believe the perpetrators are from out of town and had come to Detroit to prey on the large crowds in town for the NCAA tournament.
UPDATE: A spokesman for the Mayor says the Mayor paid for his own transportation costs and hotel. His tickets were given to him by the NCAA. The Mayor's security detail did not accompany him on the trip.
UPDATE II: A story in today's Star by Brendan O'Shaughnessy adds a few new facts to this story. Mayor Ballard was accompanied by wife Winnie on the trip. They drove their car to Detroit. Following the pick-pocket incident, the Mayor summoned a member of his security detail to Detroit to offer protection to him and his wife for the remainder of the trip. Also, Detroit police say they warned the public about the presence of pick pockets in the area of the Final Four.