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Protecting your vehicles and valuables

July 22, 2014

Local law enforcement agencies are warning that warm weather has lead to a rash of recent break-ins, and although some of the crimes are solved, the risk remains.

Overnight July 5 and 6, five different vehicles were broken into within a three-block radius in a Town of Brookfield neighborhood, including three at the same address. This came on the heels of a spree of thefts from vehicles both at the Majestic Theater parking lot as well as along primary roads in the city of Brookfield.

"We usually see an uptick when the weather gets better," town of Brookfield Lt. Detective Sean Schmidt said. "It's an ebb and flow thing."

Suspects in that string of residential vehicle-breaks in have been arrested in connection to other crimes in Waukesha and the investigation is ongoing. "At this time, it's still being followed up on, but we believe it's all related," Schmidt said.

Property taken from the town of Brookfield neighborhood's residents included wallets, electronics, and more. Schmidt and City of Brookfield Captain Phil Horter both issued a relatively simple but an important advice to minimize the threat.

"Don't leave things in sight that are valuable. They're going to enter a vehicle where they plainly see something of value," Horter said. "If they don't see anything, they're going to move onto another car."

However, some doors are not locked at all.

"People, because of where they live, think that they don't need to lock their doors. This is a nice place to live and it is, for the most part safe and secure, but other people know that too and they prey upon it," Schmidt said. "Some of these people don't even lock their homes. People are going to take advantage of that situation."

Both police officers agreed that residents should reduce temptation.

"If somebody really wants to get into your vehicle, they might smash the window, but many vehicles, if you smash the window, it's going to set off the alarm," Horter said. "But if you don't leave things in sight that are valuable, whether your car is locked or unlocked, people are not going to enter it."

In a string of vehicle break-ins on the night of July 1 at the Majestic Theater, a thief did smash three windows during his crime spree. Town of Brookfield Police have also identified a suspect in those cases in connection to property recovered in New Berlin.

"Movie theaters are kind of like shopping malls, where it's a bit more of a magnet with that. In those cases too, it's somewhat preventable but people are leaving purses and computer bags and GPSs in plain view," Schmidt said.

In all, there have been 22 reported unauthorized entries to automobiles resulting in stolen property since June 17 between the city and town. Schmidt notes that it can be difficult for police to prevent such crimes without assistance from residents.

"If there's other calls for service, those take priority over extra patrols. We've had extra patrols, but the people can just hide," Schmidt said. "We can hit the neighborhood four or five times during the night, but if they're watching for us too, they'll take cover."

Horter agreed and called upon citizens to keep their own eyes and ears open.

"Unfortunately, calls for service certainly draw us to the more populated or busier parts of the city. What we really encourage is for all of our people and businesses to report any suspicious activities," Horter said. "If everybody keeps an eye out, we certainly have a much better chance of being successful."

Schmidt noted that the town of Brookfield Police Department has stepped up its field interviews to combat the crimes. Neighborhood Watch information is available on the town of Brookfield Police Department's website and can also be obtained by calling the department.

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