A frightened woman hid behind a bush earlier this month as she watched two men carry more than $5,000 worth of rifles and shotguns out of her neighbor's home in broad daylight, the second such burglary in Wauwatosa this year.
The woman then crept inside to call police, but even as she described the situation to dispatchers, the burglars drove off and escaped.
At least 10 long weapons — rifles, shotguns and a pellet gun — are unaccounted for following this latest theft. According to reports, police were called at 9:45 a.m. May 3 to the 4400 block of North 108th Street on the report of two men carrying guns out of a house and fleeing west on Congress in a boxy gray or silver vehicle.
Officers arrived to find the service door to the attached garage open and the door into the home's kitchen also standing open. They found a pellet rifle lying on the kitchen floor and dresser drawers pulled open in a bedroom, where they also found a rifle scope and a tire iron left on the bed.
The next-door caller told them she had gone into her kitchen a little after 9 a.m. and noticed the strange car parked in front of her neighbor's house. About 15 minutes later, she saw it was still there, with no one around it. Another 10 or 15 minutes passed, and she again glanced out and saw that the rear door of the car was open.
She decided to investigate and went outside, hoping to take the license number. But as she crossed her driveway, she saw a man jogging across her neighbor's lawn carrying three or four long gun cases. She hid behind a bush between the two properties, she said. She couldn't say whether the man had seen her.
She scurried back inside her home and called police, continuing to watch out her window as the burglar loaded guns into the car and headed back to her neighbor's home. Then she saw a second suspect come out the back with another armload of gun cases. Both men hurried to the car and left while she was still speaking to a police dispatcher.
Officers combed the area but couldn't locate the vehicle or trace the partial plate number the witness gave them.
The burglar or burglars pried open a rear service door to the attached garage, apparently secured only by a chain, and then entered an unlocked door to the house, police surmised.
The homeowner was contacted by phone in Green Bay, where he had been since April 28. He returned later in the day and tried to assess his loss of property. He was missing a collection of several hundred coins worth about $1,750, including many proof sets, but his main loss was in guns.
A cabinet containing a number of rifles and shotguns was missing from a cabinet behind a TV set in his bedroom, more from a bedroom closet, and more from his basement. The burglars had left behind an antique .22-caliber bolt-action rifle.
Gone, according to his best recollection, were:
- A Remington 100 LT Magnum 20-gauge shotgun, valued at $500
- A Remington 30.06 Woodsmark rifle with scope, $600
- A Browning A-Boldt .270-caliber rifle with scope, $750
- A Mossburg 500 20-gauge shotgun with extra barrel, $350
- A Benelli 20-gauge shotgun, $1,500
- A Savage 17 H&R rifle with scope, $350
- A Remington .22-caliber rifle, $500
- A BSA .22-caliber pellet rifle, $400
- An H&R 410-gauge single shot (described as rifle), $150
- A Savage Over/Under .22-cal./410-gauge rifle/shotgun, $350
As in a similar incident on Feb. 22, police described the victim's home as unkempt and said that before the homeowner arrived to guide them, they couldn't tell most of what had been disturbed.
In the February burglary, a home in the Washington Highlands was broken into and four semi-automatic handguns and a 5.56-millimeter AR-15 semi-automatic rifle were stolen. In that case, another 10 or so hunting rifles and shotguns were left behind.
In both cases, the guns were left unlocked in cabinets and closets, or just lying out in the open.