Car thieves bounce from city to city, police across southern Wis. say

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Police in Evansville, Edgerton and Beloit are all reporting a rash of auto thefts and break ins this month, and they say many cases jump over county lines.

“[It’s] more than I’ve ever seen, probably in my career,” Beloit Police Lieutenant David Elrod, a 17-year veteran, said.

Beloit police reported 15 car thefts within the last two months, bringing the total this year to 35. Last year, Lt. Elrod said the city altogether saw 78 reports of car thefts.

Evansville’s Police Chief Patrick Reese said the city typically sees one or two stolen cars a year. This month, he saw six.

“Unfortunately, we’re getting some influx from the larger communities coming down here and taking advantage of some of, maybe, our more trusting citizens,” Reese said.

One of Evansville’s latest victims to car theft is Dana Allen, a high school teacher. She said she found her family’s Ford missing on Tuesday morning. She was headed to her first oncologist appointment after her cancer diagnosis 11 days ago.

“I guess this has been happening a lot, and it just shows me that I can’t be so trusting,” she said.

Allen had tracked down her car using an app on her phone, and by Wednesday she was able to retrieve her car from Madison. “It smells like they were using drugs in the car,” she said.

Beloit, according to authorities, has become another destination for stolen cars.

“We’ve had several from other jurisdictions that end up here that we recover, including one that happened this morning,” Lt. Elrod said, referring to a vehicle from Delavan. “I would say the people that are probably involved are from the stateline area. I don’t know if they’re exactly from Beloit, but they’re from the area.”

Edgerton Police Chief Robert Kowalski said a week and a half ago, a car from his jurisdiction was also found in Beloit.

Aside from auto thefts, Chief Kowalski warns of a new issue in his area, which he calls “car shopping.” He described it as when suspects run up to cars to see if they are open, and if they are, attempt to steal valuables.

Chief Kowalski said there have been more than a dozen incidents of car shopping in the past two months, and not all suspects are juvenile.

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