Three times in the last two months, homes within a block of Mark Prodoehl’s residence on Stowell Avenue have been burglarized.
As the organizer of a Block Watch group, he is more tuned into such activity than most residents. So he invited Shorewood Police Chief David Banaszynski to join him at a town hall-style meeting Monday at the library, where concerned residents could ask questions and learn how to support law enforcement efforts.
“The reason we’re here tonight is to ask for your help,” said Banaszynski, who shared a series of ways for residents to stay informed and be involved. About 50 people attended.
Banaszynski said there have been 11 burglaries in Shorewood in the last two months, all at unlocked homes. Other North Shore communities have also experienced similar crimes recently. In addition 22 autos have been entered illegally — 16 of which were unlocked — and six cars have been stolen in the last couple of months. All six cars were unlocked, five had keys inside and a couple were even running when they were stolen.
Because nearby communities are experiencing a similar rise in such crimes, departments are working together and sharing information to crack the cases. Progress so far:
- Three arrests have been made in connection with car entries in Whitefish Bay and Shorewood. One person has been criminally charged after using a credit card stolen in one of the thefts.
- One person has been arrested for stealing a car on Lake Drive. That person also was connected to car thefts in Glendale, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point and Milwaukee.
- City of Milwaukee police have arrested one person in connection with home burglaries.
Prevention and deterrence
Three tips were at the top of Banaszynski’s list:
- Lock it. The most obvious step.
- Light it. Burglars don’t want attention, and light and noise keep them away.
- If it doesn’t feel right, call police. “I’d rather be called 100 times and find nothing wrong, than not be called that one time, and your home’s broken into or worse,” he said.
Other suggestions to help ensure safety and security that were discussed Monday included:
- Participate in the Vacation Watch List Service: For residents who plan to be out of town up to 30 days, the Shorewood Police Department will try to walk around their homes once a day to ensure windows aren’t broken and things are in order. Visit the Police Department's website to sign up.
- Start a Block Watch group: Prodoehl started his group in 2005, and there are 41 families involved. The key is getting to know your neighbors and having regular communication among them.
- Get online notification: Receive text or email alerts whenever crime events take place in Shorewood with a free service at Nixle.com. CrimeReports.com is a Google Maps mashup with crimes in the area pinpointed. And the Shorewood Police Department is now active on Facebook.
- Register your alarm system: It costs $60 for a five-year registration with the village. It doesn’t increase the amount of protection you receive, but it is the law, and allows police to contact a keyholder if an alarm is active. Wauwatosa recently enacted a $20 annual registration fee.
- Don’t be a “pennywatcher”: Banaszynski even demonstrated the importance of walking with your head up when you’re out shopping or on the sidewalk. Those who are staring down and not making eye contact are easy targets, he said.