Police: Thieves target vacant homes; busted for stealing furnace

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Maybe it was the cold...or perhaps, the need for some cold, hard cash! Milwaukee police say they busted two suspects and are seeking a third -- accused of trying to run away from the scene of a burglary while carrying a stolen furnace.

It happened in the 3300 block of N. 4th Street just before noon on Friday, November 14th.

It is a burglary that has police warning other homeowners. This burglary involved two vacant homes -- and police say empty homes can be an easy target for criminals. Police are reminding those who live near vacant homes to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

"I seen some stuff and told the police. I feel a little bit safe knowing that people do watch," Tameka Franklin said.

Thankfully, Milwaukee police officers were in the right place at the right time.

"We actually happened to have some officers out on the street, undercover, and they observed two suspects breaking into a vacant home," community liaison officer Lori Lammers said.

Franklin says moments earlier, she saw the suspects make several trips.

"They were going in the back and coming out the front. I seen two young boys across the street in all black. I seen them come out with a radio. I seen them come out with a stereo and a bunch of little metal pieces," Franklin said.

"Most times they are taking it to a scrapyard to sell for cash," Lammers said.

Officers at the scene saw three suspects carrying a furnace as they attempted to get away. When the suspects saw the officers, they dropped the furnace and ran.

Police were able to take an 18-year-old Milwaukee man (a convicted felon with a 2013 armed robbery conviction) and a 29-year-old Milwaukee woman into custody following a short foot chase. Police are still looking for the third suspect.

After seeing such a bold crime committed in broad daylight Franklin says she'll be even more aware because she lives near several vacant homes.

"I think it is going to attract more people because no one lives there. Homeless men or homeless women will  try to come in and stay warm -- break in and see what they can or cannot get to survive," Franklin said.

"Vacant homes -- I really ask citizens to be on the lookout for each other and be vigilant as to who is coming and going from the property," Lammers said.