A 32-year-old Wauwatosa man has been arrested for a string of car break-ins that happened at a local bowling alley between October and January.
In most cases, car windows were smashed out at AMF Bowlero, 11737 W. Burleigh Road, and items such as purses and wallets were taken. The cash and credit cards were then used at gas stations and stores until the owners got wise and canceled the cards.
"We have a pretty state-of-the-art camera system in place so we were able to ID the vehicle to police," said Roy Brent, bowling center manager.
The video led police to a minivan owned by the Tosa man, and officers started conducting surveillance.
"We believed there was a pretty good chance we'd witness him committing a crime within a short period of time," Sgt. David Moldenhauer said. "It was just a different crime than we expected."
Instead of a vehicle break-in, the man and his friend, a 32-year-old Milwaukee man, headed to Pick 'n Save, 1717 N. Mayfair Road, Jan. 23, police said. There the duo filled their cart with groceries valued at $154 and used a self-checkout station. He was seen swiping a card, which officers suspected was stolen. A store employee said the transaction was declined.
"They hadn't paid for it at all," Moldenhauer said.
The Tosa man, who was out on bail for an open case pending in Milwaukee County court, was suspected in at least a dozen vehicle break-ins in Wauwatosa. Greenfield police also suspected him in numerous thefts from vehicles at the Budget Cinema, 4475 S. 108th St.
Officers watched the men for awhile to see if they had any other crimes planned that day. They saw the men roll and smoke a marijuana blunt in the car, and they stopped the vehicle at 37th and Hadley streets in Milwaukee, the report said.
It goes on to say:
The Tosa man was in possession of two debit cards with women's names on them, as well as the groceries, a Global Positioning System and numerous cell phone chargers. Meanwhile, the marijuana odor was emanating so strongly from the vehicle that the drug dog couldn't pinpoint one exact place to search.
The Tosa man was arrested for habitual retail thefts, two counts of possessing stolen property and bail-jumping. Meanwhile, his friend from Milwaukee was arrested for violating probation and habitual retail theft.
The friend told police he always seemed to get into trouble when he spent time with the Tosa man. For instance, the last time they got together they ended up getting arrested for stealing a cell phone from Target.
On Jan. 23, the duo had planned to visit a friend who had just gotten out of prison. But first, they needed to get some food and refreshment because they also were celebrating the Tosa man's birthday.
The Tosa man tried to use his food stamps card to pay for the groceries, which included liquor. Although the friend knew the transaction would be declined, he walked off with the items.
Knowing police had made an arrest gives Brent some comfort.
"We're happy to see they were caught," he said.
But the battle against vehicle break-ins continues, with several more occurring throughout the city in the week following the Tosa man's arrest.
"There's not just one person doing them," Moldenhauer said. "It's ongoing."
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