Bug-Napped! Burgled Beetle Among a Rash of Car Thefts

Thirteen-year-old VW Beetles are not among the models most coveted by car thieves. But this one was watched and waited for, then swooped upon. The theft was one of a series of such incidents in Wauwatosa in the last week.

A Wauwatosa woman developed a plausible if unusual theory as to how and why her beloved 1999 Volkswagen Beetle was stolen in the midst of what appears to be an uptick in vehicle thefts in the city.

She thinks her car — an unlikely model to be targeted for theft — was the object of a strange crime of opportunity. Her Bug, she believes, was stalked.

She had a happier ending than most auto theft victims — she got her Beetle back five days later without any damage done to it.

Others haven't been as lucky. As rising reports have surfaced late this summer, many of the autos, if recovered at all, are being found with punched-out locks or broken windows, stripped steering columns and missing ignitions, stereos ripped out and interiors in disarray.

In a number of incidents, though, owners have suffered more embarrassment than damage after leaving thieves easy access to their keys — as in the case of the purloined punch-buggy.

Patient car thief lies in wait for his quarry

The woman, a resident of the 2300 block of North 61st Street, reported that between 7:35 and 7:44 p.m. Sunday, her VW Beetle was stolen from her driveway.

She told police that she and her boyfriend had just returned from an out of town trip and were in the process of bringing in belongings from her car. They had locked the car, gone inside and unpacked some things, and she returned for one more item. But the car was gone — along with her top-of-the-line Apple laptop.

By the time police arrived, she had deduced what probably happened, bizarre as it seemed.

About a week before, on the night of Aug. 20, both her car and her boyfriend’s had been broken into while parked at the residence. Both had been locked, but nothing appeared to be missing and no serious damage was done ­— only some very minor paint chips on the door edge, as if by a tool used to jimmy the latches.

The two decided not to report the break-ins at the time. Only now that her car was missing did she recall that her boyfriend had kept a spare key to her car in his center console.

She believes that the thief who broke in to both cars earlier stole the VW key from her boyfriend’s car. Assuming the thief either didn’t realize what he had at the time or, more likely, already had a vehicle at the scene, the owner believes that the perpetrator planned to return soon with the key to steal her Bug.

But as we know, she soon left town. It would appear then, that if her theory was correct up to that point, the thief must have kept a very close eye out for the Bug to come back — watching, waiting, and grabbing it before the couple had been home for even 10 minutes.

At 10:10 a.m. Thursday, Milwaukee police reported the Beetle recovered without damage and with both plates still attached in the 3300 block of North 42nd Street.

They made no mention of finding a Mac Book Pro — worth almost as much as the car — inside.

A stolen ride that ought to be easy to spot

A West Allis man reported that between 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday someone had stolen his car, a 1997 Dodge Stratus, from the lot at , 6750 W. State St.

He said he had met friends there early and they had spent the entire evening. When he left the restaurant, the car was gone and there was some broken glass in his parking spot.

He said the Stratus is white with a very large, purple Transformers character decal on the hood. As of last report, though, the distinctive Dodge had not been recovered.

He'll never think of this car the same way again

A Wauwatosa man has now gotten back his car, in Wauwatosa Patch. But it'll probably be hard to get it out of his mind who had been sitting in his front seats.

Milwaukee police reported Saturday they had recovered a Toyota stolen the night before from a Wauwatosa man’s driveway in the 2500 block of North 67th Street.

Milwaukee officers learned the 2001 Rav4 was stolen during a routine traffic stop at North 26th and West Chambers streets. They said the driver swore he didn’t know the car was stolen and that he had been “renting it from a crack head for $10 a day.”

He was arrested for operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. His passenger was held for violation of probation — for armed robbery.

Victim hardly had time to miss her minivan

At 8:07 a.m. Monday, a caller reported a suspicious damaged vehicle parked behind her residence in the 3800 block of North 101st St.

Police found what proved to be a stolen 1997 Dodge Caravan in her alley. The front passenger window was smashed and the ignition was gone.

When located the owner by phone to tell her they'd recovered her minivan, she was at the very moment giving a stolen vehicle report to a Milwaukee police officer.


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