The Watertown Police Department has been busy in recent days investigating several potentially violent attempted carjackings and thefts of motor vehicles.
Some of these incidents have had their victims threatened by gunmen and seen a Watertown police officer involved in a high-speed chase that hit more than 100 mph. on State Highway 16 east to Oconomowoc.
According to the department, the incidents have been occurring in the evenings and the perpetrators seem to be targeting women.
The Daily Times reported on one incident that occurred Monday. According to the police department, the suspects, who appeared in surveillance videos to be two men, allegedly robbed the Speedway station at 104 N. Church St., and the Pick ‘n Save, 624 S. Church St., then stole a car at Kwik Trip, 1731 Church St.
Officers believe Monday’s incidents are connected, given the time frame, as well as vehicle and suspect descriptions. The first incident was reported at 7:05 p.m., the second at 8:31 p.m. and the stolen car shortly after the second incident, according to police.
A vehicle involved in all of Monday’s incidents was left in the area of River Drive at Boomer Street. That vehicle was reported as being stolen out of Milwaukee. The vehicle is currently being held for evidence, police said.
Other incidents occurred Wednesday. According to Watertown Police Department Administrative Capt. Ben Olsen, at 7:47 p.m. that day, two black males and one black female traveling in a stolen maroon Nissan Rogue used the Rogue to block a victim in her parking stall at Walmart near the south end of the store’s parking lot.
“One male suspect got out and pointed a black handgun at the victim who was alone in her car,” Olsen said. “The victim was thrown from her car, however the suspect was not able to start the vehicle and the suspects fled the area.”
Olsen said the suspects then followed (another) female in her vehicle to her residence in the area of North Fourth Street. There, a gun was pointed at her by one of the black males while she was still in her vehicle and she was ordered out of the car.
“The car was locked and the victim refused to exit the vehicle,” Olsen said.
According to Olsen, the suspects then went to the area of Boughton Street, where they pulled out in front of a women in her car and forced her to stop in the middle of the roadway. A gun was again displayed. The victim in this case accelerated around the suspects, driving off-road to escape.
“The Nissan Rogue was then located on the east side of Watertown, where a pursuit was initiated,” Olsen said. “The pursuit was terminated on Highway 16 near Oconomowoc, due to speeds.”
Olsen said that, in the five attempted armed vehicle robberies the city has had in the past 72 hours, all victims were females alone in their vehicles.
Detectives said they have identified potential suspects in the events that occurred on Monday and Wednesday and an investigation is ongoing.
The department suggested that people take the following precautions against being a target for carjackers:
- Keep car doors locked and do not leave a car running, or leave the keys in the vehicle for any reason, even for a second.
- When out at night, park in well-lit areas and try to avoid driving alone.
- When entering a vehicle, have keys in-hand, ready to enter. “Keep your eyes moving and your ‘head on a swivel,’” the department stated. “Know your surroundings. Trust instinct. If you feel something is wrong, turn around and leave the area. Once a person reaches their vehicle, unlock, quickly enter, then re-lock the car doors. Get the vehicle moving as soon as possible. Often, if a criminal senses that a victim has observed him/her, they’ll look for an easier victim.”
- When stopping in traffic at a stop sign or stop signal, make sure there is room in front to maneuver and escape. Remember, sidewalks and lawns are not barriers and can be driven on if necessary to escape. A rule of thumb is if a driver can’t see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of them touching the pavement, they are too close.
- Keep any cell phone inside of a pocket. “If your vehicle is stolen,” police said, “you will have a way of contacting 911. If your cell phone is left inside the vehicle, you’re stranded without a way to call for help.”
- “If you are a victim of carjacking, cooperate with the suspect,” police said. “Give the suspect want they want and don’t argue. Make a mental note of the suspect’s description, their vehicle’s description if they have one, and report to 911 as soon as possible. Your safety, and your life, are far more important than a car.”
The Watertown Police Department said it is working to solve the local incidents and keep the community safe. Anyone with information on this or other crimes is encouraged to call the department at 920-261-6660, or report it anonymously by texting “WTTN” and the tip to Tip411 (847411).