Menomonee Falls — All it takes is a little common sense.
That is what Menomonee Falls police are saying can help prevent crime in the village after a recent rash of thefts from vehicles has left people without cellphones, credit cards, and even their vehicles.
More than a dozen vehicles have been targeted in neighborhoods south of Appleton Avenue in recent weeks, according to Assistant Chief of Police Mark Waters, and much of what has happened could have been prevented.
"These are crimes of opportunity and preventable measures can be taken by owners, specifically by safeguarding their property," Waters said.
Many of the targeted vehicles were left unlocked in driveways or parked in front of homes in residential neighborhoods during the overnight hours. No estimate has been made on the value of the stolen items, which include wallets, cash and small electronics. Three vehicles were also reported stolen, two of which were stolen from Northpoint Drive and one stolen from Pershing Avenue.
"Two of the vehicles that were stolen were left unlocked with the keys in the ignition," Waters explained.
One vehicle was recovered on Terriwood Drive, where several of the other thefts also occurred. Of even greater concern is when firearms are taken from unlocked vehicles, as was the case in two incidents earlier this year. The weapons have not yet been recovered.
And it doesn't stop there.
"These thefts often lead to other crimes," Waters said, "including identity theft and credit card crimes that cause additional headaches for the victims."
Credit cards taken from vehicles on the night of Friday, June 27, were used at a gas station on 76th Street and Good Hope Road the following morning.
"We think the suspects may have been active all night and into the morning," said Lt. Kevin Von Bank. Surveillance footage indicated the suspects of the thefts that evening were young black males. "This is a trend we are very much concerned with; once this kind of crime gets going, it can be difficult to stop."
Preventing these kinds of crimes is simple, Lt. Kevin Von Bank said, starting with something as easy as not leaving valuables in unlocked vehicles.
"I know it's summer now and we are busy and it's easier to forget," he said, "but it is worth it to take the extra steps to safeguard your valuables. If we work together on this, the neighborhoods will be safer and the community as a whole will be safer. That's the key right there."
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