Broken glass and twisted metal mark the spot where two stolen vans from Milwaukee were used to break into Manheim Auto Auction along I-94 in Racine County at about 3 a.m. Sunday.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said at least six teenagers and young adults were in the stolen vans.
"They're crashing through fortified fencing and barricades," Schmaling said. "They travel at over 100 miles per hour. They have an utter disregard for human life. They don't respect their own lives. This has got to stop."
Once they drove through the fence, they had their pick of the lot. They tried getting away with six Mercedes Benzes, but had trouble with one and left it behind.
A few hours later, a 15-year-old crashed one of the stolen cars in Milwaukee and was taken into custody. Another one of the vehicles was found abandoned in Milwaukee.
"A lot of folks are wondering why these young criminals are doing this," Schmaling said. "They're wondering what the endgame is. Is there a big chop shop some place? And the answer to that is no. These kids are out of control and simply use it as an adrenaline rush. It's a joy ride of sorts. Sometimes they use the cars to commit other crimes. Once they do some damage, they just leave the cars on the curb."
Schmaling says these crimes often lead to dangerous high speed chases, or deadly crashes. He worries that I-94 between the Illinois border and Milwaukee, is turning into a free for all, because of these young suspects.
"The speeds they reach are deadly," he said. "We've been seeing this kind of thing more and more in Racine County. They turn off headlights, and weave in and out of traffic. It's an extreme safety hazard."
Now, the search is on for the other three stolen Mercedes Benzes, and at least five suspects - who investigators have this message for.
"We're going to catch you," Schmaling said. "It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of when."
Schmaling said police often end up catching these kids with the help of social media, where they posting incriminating photos and bragging about their criminal activity.
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