“We are helpless:” Bold group of thieves targets convenience stores in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- A group of bold and defiant thieves is targeting convenience stores in broad daylight -- and grabbing whatever they can get their hands on. Store owners feel the thefts are part of a bigger operation.

The images of the burglary suspects from surveillance video are as clear as day.

Wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, a man was caught on camera nonchalantly walking over to a rack, grabbing two armfuls of laundry detergent and running out. Moments later, he's seen returning to grab more merchandise. The video shows him running in and out of the store four times before leaving the scene.

"They came with the car. They pull the car on the outside. They fill everything, grab everything, and they put it in their car. Then they go. They come without plate numbers," said Anand Mirle, Citgo manager.

Citgo gas station near 27th and Capitol

Several men were seen waiting for the suspect near gas pumps at the Citgo gas station near 27th and Capitol.

Mirle said the same types of crimes have been occurring across the street at the Clark station as well.

Clark gas station near 27th and Capitol

"Some people would come with a gun. They would try to show the gun in front of us," said Mirle.

Despite the stores being busy and full of customers, video shows the crooks filling up backpacks -- stealing Red Bull and other items. One suspect even went to the cooler to grab cases of food while another suspect stood by the office door so the clerk couldn't get out.

"It's a horrible situation. It's a scary environment -- fear kind of atmosphere," said Mirle.

Phillips 66 station on Teutonia and Roosevelt

Just blocks away, similar thefts occurred at the Phillips 66 station on Teutonia and Roosevelt. One man was even caught on camera showing his middle finger, while filling up a crate. A few men grabbed what items they could, and cleared out shelves. The burglary only lasted a few minutes.

"They know we are helpless. We can't fight with six to seven people," said Mirle.

It seems Capitol Pantry was also hit by the group as well. Employees believe the thieves are selling the stolen goods. As they profit, the livelihoods of these small business owners are going right out the door.

"We lost almost a couple thousand dollars," said Mirle.

Police said they have received several calls about thefts from each of these businesses, and continue to look for the suspects.

Meanwhile, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton released a statement saying he's grateful no one was injured and his office remains "committed to targeting proven strategies that reduce and ultimately prevents these types of violent crime."

The store owners are offering a cash reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible.