Emergency Crime Alert: Dealerships Targeted for Teen Drag Racing

Milwaukee area car dealerships—This is not a drill! Your lots will be targeted by delinquents preparing for a massive drag race event inspired by the Fast and Furious film franchise. Local community leaders and police officers are aware and preparing for this impending event. However, there are certain security protocols you can take tonight to protect your inventory and facilities from theft and vandalism this weekend.

(And other dealerships across the country, take note—this could be you in the not-too-distant future, if teen joyriding continues to escalate.)

Milwaukee Prepares for Saturday “Fast and Furious” Drag Racing Spree

Milwaukee Drag Racing Flyer June 2017Milwaukee residents report that a certain Facebook flyer has been making the rounds on the social media site, calling on joyriders to participate in a “Milwaukee Edition” 2 Fast, 2 Furious-themed drag racing event in Midtown, 16th Mill Rd, and East Capital.

While the flyer itself doesn’t list a date, a “concerned teen” told local news stations over social media “…this Saturday, there is suppose to be a big race from midtown to east capital. They even made a flyer for it. This is an real event. Some of the cars probably will be stolen cause some of the people participating are too young to drive.” [sic]

Alderwoman Chantia Lewis agrees about the dangers presented. After alerting the local police captain of District 4 of the drag racing possibility, she sent out an alert to local businesses. Alderwoman Lewis warned that the criminals “plan to steal cars from dealerships on North 76th Street and on Brown Deer Road Saturday night… and use the cars to drag race and show the city hell.”

While authorities stress that the information isn’t necessarily confirmed—it is Facebook, after all—it does follow a pattern of crimes that Officer William Metzen of the Milwaukee Police Department says has afflicted the entire county of late.

“They’ll drive onto dealership lots in stolen cars, and use them to ram down the gates or the building itself,” he told Eyewitness Surveillance in an interview this morning. “Once they’ve gained access, they’ll grab keys to nicer cars that they’ll then steal.”

Alderwoman Lewis is determined that this won’t happen to Milwaukee area businesses this weekend.

“We’re focused on deterrence,” she says, adding that she’s requested local security companies to patrol the potentially targeted areas for prospective car thieves. “If they can’t get a car, they can’t participate in the drag race.”

Mr. Melvin-Watson Neal, Senior Adviser & Community Engagement Liaison for the Wisconsin Policy Agency, says that his organization will be sending out two vehicles to the areas listed in the flyer during “heightened times” of possible activity. In his eyes, the flyer—with its expletive driven call to “f*** 12”, meaning the police—represents a breakdown between the authorities and the communities they’re supposed to protect.

“We’re seeing a bit of an unfortunate culture shift. There has to be a bridge between the authorities who serve the community, and the individuals himself,” he told us on an afternoon phone call. “It’s up to businesses like [the Wisconsin Police Agency and Eyewitness Surveillance] to serve as a bridge between those two groups of people.”

Mary Hoehne, the executive director for the Granville Business Improvement District, says that there seems to be a “war on car dealers” in metropolitan areas.

“I mean, really, what can they do to stop this sort of crime?” she asked. “It’s time for businesses to take responsibility for their security, or this will just keep happening.”

Immediate Security Recommendations for Milwaukee Dealerships

Officer Metzen’s recommendations align with Eyewitness Surveillance’s own: Focus on preventing theft of inventory.

For tonight and this weekend, we recommend the following precautions for vulnerable dealerships:

  • Suspend after-hours browsing. Customers on the lot can confuse the authorities, who are unsure if they’re bystanders or true criminals, thereby delaying response times. Given the violent nature of recent car thefts—with stolen cars ramming into fences and buildings—browsers may also be injured on company property, opening dealerships up to liability.
  • Park defensively. This means parking inventory at the end of the day to block all entrances and exits to the dealership’s lot and buildings. Consider “ringing” your building with cars, to make it that much harder for these hooligans to crash their way into your offices. Finally, even if they manage to steal the car keys despite these defenses, block car inventory aisles to prohibit the actual theft of the vehicle.
  • Practice good key management. Good key management requires a multi-level security plan over the long term, but for now, dealerships must recall every single key to every building door, storage area, and piece of inventory. Keys must be locked away in a reasonably protected area of the office. Under no circumstances should keys be kept inside unlocked inventory or “loose” in an employee’s desk. There is no clever hiding spot for keys inside unlocked cars.

Officer Metzen and Alderwoman Lewis also request that community members submit surveillance camera footage and photographs that could help identify possible criminals and their methods of theft.

Long Term Security Strategies to Deter Joyriders and Vandals

Hyper vigilance, like the sort required for this weekend’s expected crime spree, will be impossible to maintain over the long run.

Therefore, the ultimate recommendation we have for dealerships and other businesses who want to stop theft completely? Invest in live surveillance—any form of live surveillance. Traditional CCTV cameras aren’t enough, since they do nothing to actually prevent theft from occurring.

Determine whether security guards, monitored video cameras, or some combination of various professional services is right for your business, and then contract with your chosen companies as soon as possible. We’re honestly not trying to be unduly alarmist, but for every night your business isn’t secured, you risk crimes like this happening.

For more information, please feel free to contact your local police districts for further instruction, or contact Eyewitness Surveillance for specific security recommendations for the anticipated criminal activity.

And, if you’d like to receive future reports of crime in your area and across the country every Monday, please sign up for our National Crime Alert.

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