Twelve teens used two cars to ram a fence at the Manheim Auto Auction lot along I-94 in Racine County Thursday, and crawled through the hole, trying to steal high priced cars. Some were caught in the act.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said they have four people in custody.
“When they heard those sirens they were running out of there like rats,” he said.
Officers used a dog to search for the teens that ran away. One was arrested a few blocks away.
“Why do we have 15, 16-year-olds out at 3:30 in the morning ramming through fences and crawling through fences like rats putting everyone's safety in jeopardy? In the past they've come right at the guards with their vehicles,” Schmaling said.
The sheriff said these crimes often lead to dangerous high-speed chases or deadly chases. He worries that I-94 between Kenosha and Milwaukee is turning into a free-for-all, because of these young suspects. And Schmaling suspects these teens don’t stop at stealing cars.
Schmaling says the four teens face numerous felony charges and are cooperating with deputies about revealing information about the other eight suspects.
Manheim has been hit three times in less than six months but they aren't the only auto business in Racine County that's been targeted.
"Again?" said Jonathan Prahl, GM at Zarate's Auto Sales. "It's been so many times it is getting ridiculous."
Prahl says his business had a break-in a few hours before Thursday's incident at Manheim. The man was caught on their surveillance cameras walking by a truck. He broke a window and crawled in, stealing a handgun and some prescription medications.
"You wonder when your time is coming because if there are that many people coming in and out of that place on a regular basis, you're kind of just getting set up to be next in my opinion," Prahl said.
Prahl says they're offering a $500 reward for any information leading to an arrest in their break-in case.
And while they do compete with places like Manheim, he would never be happy because something like this happened to a competitor.
"I wouldn't wish this upon any other dealer no matter where they're located," Prahl said. "It's just an inconvenience and turns out to be a hassle."