MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- For nearly four months, police from several departments have been trying to catch a man who's stealing flushing valves from toilets and urinals in public restrooms. They say he's taken roughly $35,000 worth of the devices.
"This is the first time we've ever experienced this or ever heard of it. As you can imagine, at first, it was a little bit odd. But as we found out there were more and more thefts occurring, it became quite serious," said Sgt. Ray Radakovich of the Greenfield Police Department.
Greenfield police first heard of the heists in September. They continued through October and have since spread.
The bathroom bandit targets fast food restaurants and college campuses. Flushing valves have been nabbed from MATC, Waukesha County Technical College, ITT Technical Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and most recently Marquette University.
"There's still a lot of camera footage to be gone over; we've located our suspect on some of our camera footage but right now, we're pulling off a lot of camera footage," said Joseph Souther, UW-Milwaukee Police Investigator.
Police believe the thief has some kind of plumbing knowledge because in just a minute or two, he's able to shut off the water, screw the valve off, and be on his way.
"It's our suspicion, and we've yet to be able to confirm this, that he's reselling them somehow. We don't believe he's taking them for scrap, there just wouldn't be enough value in it," said Sgt. Radakovich.
The suspect is described as a white male between the ages of 20 and 30, 5'8" - 5'10" tall, 150-160 pounds with a light beard. Police say he may be wearing a dark jacket and a black hat with a white stripe.
Officials are urging anyone with any information to contact the UW-Milwaukee Police Department at 414-229-4627.