“Cold car is better than no car:” MPD reports 118 motor vehicle thefts in just 7 days

MILWAUKEE -- Nearly 17 people every day for the past week had their cars stolen, according to new numbers from the Milwaukee Police Department. A tweet from the department reminded the public not to leave a car unattended with keys in it.

Car stolen from driveway in Wauwatosa

Bambi Birenbaum was one of those victims. Her vehicle was off and locked while she visited a friend's home.

"I was actually standing at a friend's doorstep, turned around, parked across the street, pointed and said 'there goes my car,'" Birenbaum said.

Bambi Birenbaum

She and her husband tracked the thieves by looking at their credit card transactions. She saw it was used at a nearby McDonald's.

She visited the location and left her number with employees should they see the car or people return.

Birenbaum reported the incident to police and while at the station, received a call from someone at McDonald's.

They told her that her car was in the drive thru at the restaurant. Birenbaum took off in a friend's car and barricaded her stolen car in the drive thru.

"I jumped out the passenger seat, started screaming at the top of my lungs as loud as I could -- 'that's my car. Give it back. I'm here to get my property,'" Birenbaum said.

Bambi Birenbaum

The men got out and ran away,  leaving some dents in her car and about $800 worth of property missing from it. She found one of the suspect's cell phones on the seat and a backpack with school pictures inside of it.

"It took split seconds," she said.

Birenbaum noted her gratitude towards McDonald's employees and other strangers who helped her during the incident. Someone inside the McDonald's saw the suspect throw away Birenbaum's credit card into the trash. When she arrived, she was able to retrieve it.


Randy Torgred

Birenbaum and her husband said they've taken extra security precautions offered at Alarmtronix. The business offers remote car systems, alarm systems and other service.

"Alarm systems -- that deters people away from cars and usually the kids will go to the next one that don't have them," Randy Torgred said.

While Birenbaum recovered her car, many people FOX 6 spoke with impacted by the recent rash have not recovered their cars.

Milwaukee Police said most of the thefts occurred on the south side, with more than half occurring between the intersections of  Layton and 6th, and National and Becher. Anyone with information should contact the Milwaukee Police Department.