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Tackled, tased and arrested, 47-year-old man accused in burglaries of Greendale businesses

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) — A Mukwonago man who was tackled by Greendale’s village president so that police could take him into custody has been criminally charged in connection with several burglaries that occurred in Greendale.

Robert Pettis

Robert Pettis

47-year-old Robert Pettis faces three counts of burglary of a building or dwelling and one count of resisting/obstructing an officer.

The alleged burglaries for which Pettis is charged occurred at the Reiman Center, Gift of Wings and Apples of Eden — all located on Broad Street in the Village of Greendale.

Early on February 21st, police were conducting surveillance on Pettis and his vehicle, as he was a suspect in multiple burglaries occurring in Elm Grove, Mequon, Thiensville and other areas to the north and west. Pettis’ vehicle was observed parking in the 6300 block of Schoolway in Greendale — a block east of Broad Street.

Eventually, Elm Grove police, working with Greendale and Franklin police spotted Pettis and ordered him to stop. Police say he turned around and starting running away from officers.

A West Allis K9 unit was called in, and the area was searched for approximately seven hours.

Shortly after noon, police observed Pettis open one of the east doors to the Greendale Visitor Center. Pettis noticed an officer, and went into a store — closing the door behind him. He then fled the store with several officers in pursuit. He was eventually stopped by Greendale’s village president, and police were able to take him into custody.

Police say Pettis struggled with officers, and a Taser had to be used on him. A search of his person revealed him to have a flashlight and an eight-inch long flathead screwdriver in his pocket. Police also noticed a thick layer of dust on Pettis, as though he had been crawling through insulation or some other type of building material.

Video from inside the Seasons of the Heart store in the 5600 block of Broad Street showed Pettis dropping from the ceiling before fleeing the store.

During a search of the strip mall type building on Broad Street, police found a jacket with a large amount of currency ($1,169 in total), near it in the basement of the Reiman Center. Surveillance video showed Pettis wearing the same type of jacket, and the jacket was sent to the state Crime Lab for analysis. The Crime Lab recovered Pettis’ DNA on the jacket.

Police spoke with an employee at the Gift of Wings store, who reported $100 cash had been removed from her cash register, and that the store’s back door appeared to have pry marks on it. The size of the pry marks matched the flathead screwdriver police found on Pettis.

At the Apples of Eden store, the owner told police a large hole had been cut into the drywall in the rear of the store. The placement of that hole would allow someone to reach through the hole and turn and open the lock. The business owner also learned his surveillance camera had been turned off.

Police say several other stores in the Village Center shopping area were broken into in the early morning hours of February 21st. Each of these businesses is connected by a common basement, and some have connecting back hallways. Police found pry marks on a far south door that would have allowed someone to access all of the businesses in the south building. The size of those pry marks matched the size of the screwdriver that Pettis was found to have in his possession.

At They Grow Like Weeds, police found fresh pry marks on the back door, and approximately $320 was reported missing from the cash register.

At Village Hair, approximately $460 was reported missing from the store’s bank bags, and $66 was missing from subcontractors work stations. Pry marks were discovered on the rear door.

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