MPD catches robbery suspect with undercover operation

DECK: Elderly targeted in District 7 crime spree

A recent string of robberies against the elderly put the Milwaukee Police Department on high alert and placed one officer undercover to catch a suspect.

MPD warned the public at the end of last month that unknown suspects were targeting elderly women in the city’s seventh district. The district covers Milwaukee’s northwest side.

According to District 7 Captain William Jessup, his district saw at least 12 of these robberies from November 2009 to January 25.

Jessup said the victims were outside their homes when they were robbed by either one or two males. All the victims were strong-arm robbed, which means they were pushed to the ground and their belongings were taken from them.

“What we’ve found is that very often these women are traveling alone from stores, or in other cases running errands or shoveling outside,” Jessup said. “As they are returning to their residence, they are approach by a male who generally tries to knock them to the ground and take their purses.”

On several occasions, the elderly women were pushed into their houses from the door and belongings were taken from inside their homes.

All of the robberies were similar in nature, but the suspects said different things to the victims and approached them from different locations in each case.

“Obviously (it is) a fear inducing crime wave as well as a serious crime in itself,” said Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn during a press conference.

After further investigation, MPD was able to arrest a suspect through an unconventional undercover effort. MPD announced the successful completion of the operation at a press conference Feb. 16.

During the operation, one District 7 MPD officer dressed up as an elderly woman in an attempt to lure the suspect and arrest him while he was making his move.

The undercover officer was placed inside an area grocery store, and another officer was put to work as a bag boy to provide surveillance.

The officer disguised as the elderly woman then walked to a vacant house, where MPD officers were stationed.

Shortly after the undercover officer went inside, the robber kicked in the door of the house in and attacked the officer. The robber was met by several MPD officers inside the house. He was subsequently arrested.

The suspect was identified as Wendell Evans. Evans was charged with nine counts of robbery after his arrest, Flynn said. Evans is also being charged with burglary and theft.

“I think what is evident in the account complaint against Mr. Evans is that he is facing a significant penalty for his actions,” said John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney. “But most importantly what it demonstrates is that one individual that is bent on committing a serious crime can cause a huge, disproportionate impact on a particular neighborhood.”

Chisholm said the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office and MPD need to work together to prevent these types of crimes.

“What we have learned is that we have to work very closely together to identify those individuals that are bent on causing a disruption and that sense of fear in a neighborhood,” Chisholm said.