Area law enforcement warn car thefts now regional issue

COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) — The Madison area has been coping with car thefts for years but now, according to the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, more communities need to be on alert.

Dane County believes the same group of thieves are responsible for thefts and break-ins they’ve been seeing across south central Wisconsin.

Recently, Madison’s suburbs have seen more and more thefts and nowSauk, Columbiaand Jefferson County law enforcement say they too are noticing a similar pattern.

The suspects were last caught on camera inCottage Grovethis past weekend. Ring video showed half a dozen people running to and from cars in the neighborhood checking to see if they were unlocked.

Erin Theisen lives in that neighborhood and she said the video was difficult to watch.

“Knowing that it’s been happening in the area definitely puts us all a little bit more on edge,” she said.

Theisen said it’s even more unnerving knowing the thieves were able to get away with her neighbor’s car just across the street.

“I even said to my husband, ‘You know how do we know they didn’t come to our house first?” she said.

Cottage Grove police said the theft happened Sunday morning around 8:30. Officers were able to recover the car later in the day but they said they’re still looking for the thieves.

“If they got away at 8 a.m. what other times of day do you think you’re safe but maybe you’re not?” Theisen wondered.

For neighbors, Theisen said the theft has been a reminder to keep a close eye on their property. She said she’s taking extra care to make sure her family’s cars are in the garage and all of her doors are locked whether she’s home or away.

“Maybe we didn’t extra check before but we do now,” she said.

Cottage Grove police said that’s the best defense. The tactics shown in that video and the tactics Dane County deputies say they’ve seen show most of these thieves are looking for easy targets. Now as more and more cities and counties report thefts, they said it’s clear the thieves are willing to go farther and farther to find them.

“It makes everyone a little more cautious about what we’re doing,” Theisen said.

To catch these thieves, law enforcement agencies across Dane, Sauk, Columbia and Jefferson counties are working together. They’re sharing photos of the suspects and any intelligence they gather from the cases they see to help each other track them down.

More at WKOW 27 News

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