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Neighbors use Facebook to help find thieves

Rash of car and garage break-ins led to posts

ONALASKA, Wis. - A rash of car and garage break-ins last week has people in one Onalaska neighborhood asking for the public's help.

Residents of the quiet neighborhood off 21st Avenue in Onalaska said safety was always something they could count on.

"It's just nerve-racking to us," said resident Cassie Carrell. "You wouldn't think that would happen."

Carrell said that all changed last Friday morning when she found both of her cars trashed.

"I noticed it right after the police came around asking if our cars were ransacked," said Carrell.

For her and many residents in the neighborhood, leaving their cars parked outside and unlocked was normal. Carrell even left her wallet inside the glove compartment last Friday.

"I was out and about the night before and it was just laying on my front seat, and nothing was taken out of it thank goodness," said Carrell.

Two houses down from hers, Adam Daniels wasn't so lucky.


"They did a good job because the money I had in there, was hiding deep in the bottom of it," said Daniels.

He stashed $150 in his center console that is now gone. He was saving it for his upcoming wedding anniversary.

These are just two of about of seven houses that had money or valuable electronics stolen from their cars or garages.

"That's what hit home for us, is that we knew that if they're willing to go into the garages, what else are they willing to go into," said Daniels.

Surveillance video from one of the houses that was robbed shows a group of four going into their garage and coming out a few minutes later with a couple of cases of beer.

The homeowners soon posted the videos to Facebook.

"These in general are somewhat difficult in general to solve unless you do develop suspects like with the video it makes it easier," said Onalaska Police Chief Jeff Trotnic.

Trotnic said using social media as a tool in these cases isn't a bad idea.

"It'd really depend on what the motivation is behind the post, how they're going about doing it," said Trotnic. "For the most part, I think it can do nothing but help."

"We're hoping that the videos remind people, ‘Hey, we live in a great town, (but that) doesn't mean bad things can't happen," said Daniels.

These residents said if it does happen again, they are ready for it.

"We've got video cameras," said Daniels. "So they'll get caught sooner or later."

Residents said they've started a Facebook thread to keep in contact and update each other.

They said they're also thinking about starting a neighborhood watch group to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Police are still looking for help to solve this case. People with any information are urged to call the Onalaska Police Department at 608-392-0228.

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