Photo shows alleged car thief beaten, stripped

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 22:40:16-05

MILWAUKEE -- A graphic photo of an alleged car thief caught in the act has been circulating on social media. 

It shows him beaten, unconscious, and stripped down to his underwear - and it caught the attention of a candidate for Milwaukee mayor. 

The photo has received comments on both sides. Some say the teen got what he deserved, while others saying the "street justice" in this instance went too far. Alderman Donovan says it shows the failure of the police department to get a handle on the rising number of car thefts and carjackings.

Car thefts are up 57 percent in Milwaukee over the last year.

"I believe this administration owes the community an explanation," said Alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Donovan.

The police department is quick to point out car thefts are actually down in the long term - they were twice as high in 1992. Whatever the number, people are concerned.

"Everyone's afraid of getting their vehicle stolen over here. It happens everywhere," said Lorena Guzman, witness.

Despite her fear, Guzman does not believe the 15 year old in the photo above got what he deserved.

"No I don't. Being beat up like that by a lot of people especially adults, it's not right," said Guzman.

The 15 year old was beaten and stripped of his clothes as he allegedly tried to steal a car. At some point, he broke free and found help.

"He just put his arm around me and said help me, help me, they're trying to kill me," said Guzman.

Guzman saw a car following the teen. So she and a neighbor took him in.

"And then we called the ambulance because he had a knot on his face and he was scuffed up pretty bad. And to embarrass him by stripping him of his clothing and that, that's just ridiculous. That's not justice," said a woman who wanted to be identified only as "Freddy."

Alderman Donovan said he can understand why this happened.

"I want to applaud those residents in the sense of getting involved. You know people are going to do what they feel is necessary to protect themselves and their property," said Donovan.

Mayor Barrett tells us the police department is focused on the car theft problem, but he says the threat of being arrested is not enough to deter young offenders. He thinks the entire juvenile justice system needs to get involved.