Merrill Park car break-ins day after residents voice crime concerns

A Milwaukee housing complex was targeted again Thursday, Oct. 6 – just a day after FOX6 News reported on elderly residents who, pleading for solutions, said they were hopeful they were making steps toward progress.

An 85-year-old woman told FOX6 this marks the sixth time her car has been broken into over the past two years while living at the Merrill Park, a complex for people who are elderly or disabled. She's not the only victim.

"Right after the people was out here yesterday talking about this," said resident Jessie Thomas. "Y’all bold enough to come do this again to us last night."

Residents spoke with city leaders – including the mayor, housing authority executive director and police – on Wednesday, saying they feel like an easy target.

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"We was just absolutely unprepared for (it)," said Zac Johnson, another resident who said his car was broken into, "especially coming out of yesterday, being so optimistically hopeful about how things are going to go."

After a meeting focused on fixing things, it's all the harder to see things broken.

Car break-ins at Merrill Park on Thursday, Oct. 6

"Really, I didn’t know if I was going to have a heart attack this morning," said Thomas. "I got heart problems. When you come up and tell me my car been done broke in, and I’m frustrated and scared."

Though nothing was taken, two other cars' windows were smashed in the lot as well overnight, including Johnson's.

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"This is the third time since June," he said. "I’m a senior citizen, I’m on a fixed income, it’s challenging enough."

Merrill Park housing complex

"It’s just hard to be talking about it, how you targeting peoples like us when you think you safe in a senior building," Thomas said.

Just as obvious as what's broken, Johnson says, are solutions. He hopes someone out there can help them get a fence that would deter thieves around the lot. He is also asking for an increased police presence. 

"Putting a gate up is not building the tower of Babel," said Johnson. "A fence would absolutely put an end to all of this."

Car break-ins at Merrill Park on Thursday, Oct. 6

Residents plan to meet with the chief of housing security once a month. Police say they are investigating, noting there are cameras on the property. 

FOX6 reached out to the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee to find out what they are doing about it, but did not immediately hear back. In August, officials told FOX6 in a statement:

"The Housing Authority is aware of car break-ins at Merrill Park as well as our other properties located throughout the city. Our Public Safety team patrols all of our properties, monitors surveillance footage, and responds to calls received from residents and employees. The Housing Authority works closely with the Milwaukee Police Department on any crime incident that occurs on Housing Authority property. We also ask residents to call the police if they see a crime occurring."All of our surveillance cameras are operational at Merrill Park and the exterior cameras pan the lots. We have also upgraded the lighting for the parking lot. We encourage residents to secure their vehicles and not leave items in plain sight. Our Public Safety team is also having discussions with residents about other potential safety measures.We are doing what we can with the resources we have available. We are continually seeking grants to support our public safety efforts for the low-income families, seniors, adults with disabilities, and the veterans that we serve. We welcome those who are interested in partnering with us on those endeavors."