MPD says thefts of minivans on the rise in District Seven

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MILWAUKEE -- Auto thefts are on the rise in Milwaukee's police district seven, and it's not sports cars or high-priced vehicles being targeted, but rather minivans! The thefts include one van that made big news Wednesday, May 9th, when it was involved in a high-speed chase.

Milwaukee police say car thefts are up 26 percent from this same time last year. The most recent was the theft of a daycare van from ABC Daycare near 60th and Center in Milwaukee. Owners of the daycare say the thieves left behind a completely different stolen van when they made the grab.

Erin Schmitt has had a van stolen from ABC Daycare three times in the last two years. The most recent was the van involved in Wednesday's high-speed chase. Schmitt isn't the only one being targeted.

District Seven police say there's been a recent rise in car thefts - specifically any minivan or Dodge and Chrysler vehicles. "What we're hoping that they do is go out and buy some type of locking mechanism," Milwaukee Police Officer Lisa Saffold said.

Police are asking area van owners to buy and use a club. It's supposed to prevent the wheel from turning, so even a running car couldn't be driven. It didn't stop the daycare van thieves, but police say that's not the point. "If you have the means, the desire and the opportunity to commit a crime, you're going to commit that crime, no matter what," Saffold said.

Authorities are hoping to make area vehicles more difficult, if not impossible to steal. "With target hardening like this, they might say 'hey, I'm not going to commit this crime,'" Saffold said.

Schmitt said after this most recent van theft, she isn't leaving anything to chance. "We're going to opt out of leaving the vehicles on the premises from here on, and we'll probably store them in a separate location now," Schmitt said.

Police say most of the vehicles that are stolen are eventually recovered, and that a lot of the criminals are just using them for joy riding.

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