Menomonee Falls police dealing with rash of gas thefts

MENOMONEE FALLS (WITI) -- For Heather Vogel -- a gas station attendant in Menomonee Falls, the first time a customer drove off without paying for gas was frustrating.

"I was upset. I didn't know what to do. It was my first time ever happening to me, working here," Vogel said.

The second time was stunning.

"Shocked. I was amazed. I couldn't believe it," Vogel said.

As Vogel witnessed the Menomonee Falls BP's third gas theft in four days, Vogel had had enough.

"He got in his car and I ran in front of it and I stopped and I was like, 'Are you really not gonna pay for your gas?' And he just backed up and tried to leave and I followed. Like, I just was, like, hanging onto the car with him as he was backing up -- and then I just hopped up on it," Vogel said.

From March 3rd through March 24th, Menomonee Falls police report 16 gas thefts at more than a half-dozen stations involving five vehicles.

Lieutenant Jeff Knop says four people have been arrested in connection with the gas thefts and more serious crimes thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Wisconsin Crime Alert Network (WICAN).

"We were able to put out information regarding the vehicles and the people involved, including photographs of them to other agencies, and that allowed other agencies to further investigations that they were pursuing," Lieutenant Knop said.

Lieutenant Knop calls the collaboration "good police work," and does not encourage people to follow Vogel's lead.

"This is a property crime, and we have to keep it in perspective," Lieutenant Knop said.

The owner of the Menomonee Falls BP gas station on Appleton Ave. said he already has surveillance cameras in place, but at this point, he's planning on adding cameras. In the meantime, he is happy to know the WICAN system is in place for his protection.

The Wisconsin Crime Alert Network is available to businesses and members of the general public. CLICK HERE for additional information.