Businesses in downtown Menomonee Falls have been the target of several burglaries over the past few weeks, and police are asking shop owners to be extra vigilant about securing their stores.
At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, an Academy of Music instructor opened the store to hold a lesson with a student, but found the register had been pried open and tossed on the floor. About $200 in cash had been taken from the register, and the burglar also made off with a bass guitar and amp valued at more than $350.
Menomonee Falls Police Lt. Chad Mueller said the exact time of the robbery is still unknown; however, it occurred some time between Thursday evening and Saturday morning. The store was closed on Friday. Mueller said the investigation is still ongoing, but officers collected evidence from the scene.
Nothing else was damaged or stolen from the store.
“Initially I thought, ‘Aww geez I got to deal with with this now,’” said Academy of Music owner Stephan Koenigs. “But it really wasn’t too bad. It could have been worse. There are hundreds of guitars and personal items that they could have stolen but didn’t. They were looking for cash.”
The burglar gained entry to the Academy of Music by forcing open the rear door, and the front door was still locked on Saturday morning when the instructor arrived.
Less than a block away, Collector’s Unlimited and Sandy’s were also targeted in a similar fashion a week prior on July 21. The burglar kicked open a rear door of Sandy’s, raided the register, and then kicked open the door at Collector’s Unlimited and cleaned out the register there.
“They are just after the money. They don’t do any damage to the inside of the store,” said Collector’s Unlimited owner Louis Gleason. “They are making their way in through the back doors.”
The burglar made off with $174 in cash from Gleason’s drawer, and about $40 in cash from Sandy’s. Another burglary attempt was made at Arcade Comics; however, the attempt was unsuccessful.
All the burglaries appear similar in nature. The burglar, or team of burglars, leave the interior of the store unscathed and target the registers for cash. The recent rash of criminal activity on Main Street has Gleason wondering who will be the next target.
“Who’s next? The tavern? George Webb? We need to step up patrols behind the buildings,” Gleason said. “They must be occurring very late at night.”
Police stepping up enforcement
Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski said the rash of burglaries in the village is a rare occurrence, and police are implementing a strategy to catch the perpetrators and prevent future incidents from occurring.
“We are definitely aware of the situation and we have a case management team on the incidents. And yes, we are putting patrol strategies in place,” Ruzinski said. “We are definitely on top of it, and we take these seriously because they are rare occurrences in the village.”
Although specific details of the ongoing investigation or patrol strategy could not be revealed, Ruzinkski said police are exploring the possibility that all the burglaries are linked to one perpetrator, or group of burglars.
In June, Pop’s Custard was also burglarized. In that incident, the suspect was caught on tape. Similar to the other burglaries, the suspect targeted the register and nothing else.
“We are exploring the possibility that they may be related. We are looking at any business burglaries that we’ve had in the village to see if there are any commonalities or similarities between them,” Ruzinski said.
Ruzinski added that the department is asking business owners to be extra vigilant in securing their storefronts in the meantime, and to contact police with any information regarding these incidents or suspicious activity. Police will also notify the Chamber of Commerce to alert all the members about these crimes.
“This is something that is very rare, and that’s why we have been on top of it right away and have strategies in place to either catch the perpetrators or prevent future occurrences,” Ruzinski said.
If you have any information that could aid police in the investigation of the incident, please call the Menomonee Falls Police Department at 532-8700.