'Literally only takes seconds:' Wauwatosa sees uptick in car thefts in past month

Wauwatosa car theft

WAUWATOSA -- Sixteen stolen or attempted car thefts in Wauwatosa in just 30 days. In almost every case, thieves are going after Jeep Libertys or Dodge Caravans that are pre-2007 models.

"It literally only takes seconds for them to get into the car," said Captain Brian Zalewski, with the Wauwatosa Police Department.

Surveillance showed a dark colored van pulling into a lot near Mayfair and Burleigh. A suspect exited the van and looked into the window of the white Jeep Liberty. The suspect broke the window of the Jeep, and hopped into the driver's seat.

Wauwatosa car theft

Wauwatosa car theft

"They weren't able to successfully take this car however there is significant damage to the ignition, broken window," Zalewski said.

The crew got away, but the same vehicle was seen attempting to break into three vehicles in a short amount of time. The suspect vehicle was described as an older dark green Dodge Caravan. The suspect was described as a black man, 5'5''-5'9'', 130 pounds and between 16-20 years old.

What happened in the parking lot is happening all over the northwest side of Wauwatosa.

Out of 16 incidents, 12 cars were stolen and four attempts to steal in one month. Four of those incidents happened at Luther Manor Senior Living.

Wauwatosa car thefts

Wauwatosa car thefts

"We're really looking at how we can deter this," said Luther Manor CEO Stephanie Chedid.

The CEO said they have signs and cameras up across the campus. These incidents were at the front of the campus involving staff or visitor cars.

"It creates financial distress for folks, it creates psychological stress for people and we just don't want that on our campus and it's not fair," Chedid

Brian Zalewski

"It's not just a property crime or just a stolen car, but it's the bigger picture of they're taking these cars and doing other crimes and putting other people at risk," Zalewski said.

Of those 16 incidents, only two were cars were running and unattended. Police suggest equipping your car with anti-theft features and remain vigilant as these crimes are happening day and night.