Despite perception, break-ins weren’t actually up in Racine area in 2021, according to police data | Local News

RACINE — Last summer, Uptown Pub & Grill bartender Nikki Frey was talking about vehicle break-ins almost as much as she was talking about life’s ups and downs with the restaurant’s customers.



This particular strip on Junction Avenue in Uptown is a frequent hit for vehicle break-ins, according to Uptown Pub & Grill bartender Nikki Frey.


Diana Panuncial


“Every other day, somebody’s car along this stretch … was getting broken into, or somebody would come in and ask if the boss could look at the cameras because their car was gone through and there’d be little things missing,” said Frey, who started bartending at the restaurant at 1510 Junction Ave. in April of 2021.

Community members like Frey and business owners have shared their experiences of being victimized, or almost victimized, by strings of burglaries, robberies and thefts across Racine. 

1 of Us Brewing, 8100 Washington Ave., allegedly had cash, checks and checkbooks stolen when their brewery was broken into early last November. Joey’s Yardarm, 920 Erie St., posted on Facebook about an alleged attempted break-in in mid-December. 

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A reporter reached out to police departments in the county to get the numbers and seek guidance on what people should do if they experience any of these incidents.

By the numbers

On Dec. 8, the Sturtevant Police Department posted on its Facebook page that there had been “a large increase in the number of theft from motor vehicle complaints lately.”

In the post, SPD alleged that the alleged suspects involved were looking for vehicles that were left unlocked and/or had valuable items inside.

A couple days later, the Mount Pleasant Police Department acknowledged the increase, tacking on a reminder in a social media post to complete a nightly routine of locking doors and turning on exterior lights to prevent break-ins. 

Definitions

Before getting into the numbers, it’s important to distinguish between a theft, a robbery and a burglary. According to Milwaukee-based law firm Hart Powell, Wisconsin law defines the following:

  • Theft occurs when someone “intentionally takes and carries away, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.”
  • Burglary occurs when someone “intentionally enters (a place) without the consent of the person in lawful possession and with intent to steal or commit a felony.”
  • Robbery occurs when someone “takes property from the person or presence of the owner by either … using force … or by threatening the imminent use of force.'”

A quick run of the numbers at Mount Pleasant show a decrease in robberies: 8 occurred in 2021, with the last instance having been in August. In 2020, there were 11. 

There were 46 burglaries and burglary attempts in Mount Pleasant in 2021 versus 41 in 2020. “We had a couple more (burglaries) this year but not a drastic change,” said Sgt. Shawn Leonard of the MPD in an email.

Incidents are occurring all over the village, Leonard noted, not in just one neighborhood. The most incidents in Mount Pleasant happened in July, November and December of last year.

Sgt. Kristi Wilcox from the City of Racine Police Department shared data that showed a plunge in the number of robberies. In 2020, there were 85; in 2021, there were 54. 

UPDATED: $4,000 reward offered for return of Bruno, the adopted dog reported stolen from Jellystone Park

“My son is so heartbroken. He thinks it’s his fault,” the car/dog owner said in a Monday morning phone interview. “I just want to have the dog back. The car is nothing.”

In Caledonia, there were 31 burglaries in 2021 in comparison to 35 in 2020 — so the number dropped slightly.

“The pattern in the last few years has shown no noticeable increase or decrease,” said Deputy Chief of the Caledonia Police Department Shawn Engleman in an email.

What has increased in Caledonia, however, is the number of motor vehicle thefts. In 2021, there were 17 incidents of motor vehicle thefts; a skyrocket from 2018’s five. 



Robberies and Burglaries in Mount Pleasant, Racine and Caledonia | 2020-2021

Data provided by respective police departments



In nearby Milwaukee, car thefts increased by even more, outpacing even Chicago’s car theft totals in 2021. In just the first 11 months of 2021, more than 9,600 vehicles were reported stolen in Milwaukee.

Sgt. William Jeschke of the Waterford Police Department said robberies and burglaries are not “a big issue” in the town that was voted the No. 1 safest city in Wisconsin back in October. 

When there are issues, though, it is mostly with attempted entry into unlocked vehicles; individuals are allegedly rummaging for change, valuables. 

“If we had 100% of vehicles locked, we wouldn’t have to worry about it,” Jeschke said. 

Follow these car break-in prevention tips. Buzz60’s Chloe Hurst has the story.

Recent experiences

Frey’s own brother was a victim of a vehicle break-in near the area in Uptown Racine in early December. What was stolen? The ashes of Bear, the Frey’s family dog; a Packers jacket that belonged to the Freys’ deceased father; and a bag of tools. 

Frey said her brother was sure he had locked his car. Her speculation is that whoever is breaking into cars in the area may know how to get inside without smashing anything even if the cars are locked.



Nikki Frey

Nikki Frey, a bartender at Uptown Pub & Grill, 1510 Junction Ave., poses for a photo on Thursday. Since she began working there over the spring of 2021, she has witnessed a number of customers and people come in to report break-ins to their cars. 


Diana Panuncial


“It’s more of a nuisance than anything else,” Frey said. 

She said she and other victims have become frustrated with the slow response times and seeming lack of action on the departments’ end. But, she often reminded herself and repeated to a reporter, shrugging: “What can be done?” 

“I don’t want to say that it’s — that nobody feels safe,” Frey said. “Who’s gonna investigate a bunch of missing change and a box of a dog’s ashes? There’s no way to find that stuff; we’re never going to get it back, you know? We don’t know who did it. And are they (police) going to take the time to check the areas where there aren’t cameras?”

Frey said she hopes for more police presence in areas that are hit hard by these incidents. She hopes solutions move away from “victim blaming,” or telling victims that they should have locked their doors to prevent theft. 

“You can’t blame the person who was violated who did have things taken from them, because that’s not fair either,” she said. “Because whoever it is, shouldn’t be going in people’s (expletive) and taking things that don’t belong to them.” 



Dee Hutch (2)

Dee Hutch works on the newest ArtRoot mural at the Racine Public Library. 



Dee Hutch, local artist at Black Hand Tattoo Gallery, had his iPad Pro and work iPhone stolen from his car when it was parked in Downtown Racine near Sixth Street and Wisconsin Avenue one early December night.

Both items are worth at least $2,000 — but what was irreplaceable and priceless was the cache of design work he had stored on the iPad with no backup. Hutch lost designs for tattoos and T-shirts for the clothing store he co-owns, Root City. 

He also lost information on appointments with his clients; he put in extra time to reconnect with them and regain their information.

“It’s very frustrating, a sickening feeling,” Hutch said. “I literally do everything on the iPad.”

One piece of art he had to redo took him 12 hours to complete the first time around.

“The tough part is, I never leave my doors open and leave stuff out. I’ve always been a stickler for it,” he said. He hopes that people are more aware and alert when they’re Downtown.

Guidance

Matthew Soens, chief of the Mount Pleasant Police Department, provided the following guidance to help prevent a burglary or attempt:

  • Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the post office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
  • Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
  • Don’t share your vacation plans on social media.
  • Store valuable items out of sight.
  • Have adequate exterior lighting.

If your home is broken into:

  • Do not enter — the offender may still be inside.
  • Use a neighbor’s phone or your cell phone to call police.
  • Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
  • Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
  • Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.

Cops & kids & haircuts: in photos | Racine PD’s Anthony Lane COP House becomes a barbershop for a day

Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



COP House converted into a barbershop

COP House converted into a barbershop

The Anthony Lane COP House was converted into a barbershop Sunday.



Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



All smiles

All smiles



Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut.



Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts



Watch now: Orchestrating Good helps turn Racine Anthony Lane COP House into a barbershop

Cops and kids and haircuts

Cops and kids and haircuts

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut.



A Racine Police officer gives a haircut

A Racine Police officer gives a haircut



Giving a haircut

Giving a haircut



Police officers or barbers? Or both?

Police officers or barbers? Or both?



Shoes for haircut recipients

Shoes for haircut recipients



All smiles

All smiles



COP House converted into barbershop

COP House converted into barbershop



New ‘cut!

New 'cut!



Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut in the COP House on Anthony Lane.



Vanessa Helbling gives a haircut

Vanessa Helbling gives a haircut

Vanessa Helbling gives a haircut in the Anthony Lane COP House on Sunday.



Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut

Courtney Krekling gives a haircut in the COP House on Anthony Lane.



Getting a fresh cut

Getting a fresh cut



Fresh ‘cut

Fresh 'cut



Fresh ‘cut

Fresh 'cut



Andis donations

Andis donations



Blue Bear supports

Blue Bear supports



Searching for shoes on RogansShoes.com

Searching for shoes on RogansShoes.com



Shoes for haircut recipients

Shoes for haircut recipients



Orchestrating Good

Orchestrating Good



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