New priority for Madison police: ending extensive west side crime spree

MADISON, Wis. — Madison police say their top priority right now is putting an end to an extensive crime spree on the city’s west side.

The department’s West District says a recent incident in which a woman was carjacked at gunpoint near Maple Grove Drive was the third similar incident in the area since August 19th. Police have seen those cases concentrated in the small area of Maple Grove Drive and McKee Road.

Police say they believe all three incidents are related and the armed carjackings are being carried out by a small group of people they say are becoming increasingly more brazen.

Authorities also believe the incidents are related to a spree of property crimes during the overnight hours of October 5th, when MPD received more than 40 reports of forced entry thefts from cars, criminal damage to property, and burglaries. Police also say they think the people involved have been involved in weapons offenses in the city in recent months.

RELATED: Madison police investigate carjacking on city’s west side

Police say the crime spree is being investigated by West District detectives, along with the Burglary Crime Unit and the Gang and Neighborhood Crime Abatement Team. Related cases are also being investigated in other districts in the city.

MPD officials say they hope and expect to make arrests in the coming days, working with the department’s Criminal Intelligence Section to analyze data to improve preventative strategies as they increase their presence in the area.

Police say the three carjacking cases took place between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., and their investigation so far leads them to believe the suspects have a connection to the Maple Grove Drive and McKee Road area, and are looking for an additional vehicle to steal to carry out other crimes. Police say they tend to look for people who are alone and pulling up to a residential parking spot and approach the vehicle before the engine is shut off.

While police temporarily increase patrols, they’re asking people who live in the area to be aware of their surroundings as they approach their homes and watch for occupied cars in the area. They say people should consider letting a family member or neighbor know of their arrival time at home and ask for someone to standby with lights on to greet them and walk them inside, if possible.

If you see something suspicious as you pull in, police say you should stay inside your locked car and contact Dane County Dispatch through 911 to request an officer to respond to the area to confirm your safety.

Police are also offering the following recommendations to ensure safety:

  • If parking in a garage, remain in the car with your doors locked until the garage door is fully down.
  • If parking on the street, in a parking lot, or in a driveway, pause after coming to a stop. Keep your car doors locked while you monitor the area. Remain in your car if you’re approached by another vehicle.
  • If you’re confronted by an armed person demanding your property, separate yourself from whatever they are asking for and move away from the suspects slowly. Your personal safety is the priority. Do your best to remember as much detailed information as possible to pass along to officers who will respond when notified.
  • Look for areas of darkness around your home that can be addressed with additional lighting. Park in the best-lit area possible.
  • Share information with your neighbors.