Marquette students reclaim their stolen car from burglar

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Usually when someone steals a car, the goal is to not let the owners ever see it again, let alone twice in the same night. Unfortunately for one local burglar, that’s not always how it turns out.

Students Drew and Lauren Merkel learned from their parents that one of their family cars was stolen Friday from their home in Shorewood, Wis., a town about four miles north of campus.

Lauren, a freshman in the College of Business Administration, decided to report the incident to the Department of Public Safety that afternoon in case the perpetrator drove through campus. However, this action turned out to be unnecessary when she spotted the blue and gold 2000 GMC Yukon with Marquette Engineering stickers on the license plate heading eastbound on West Wells Street Friday night.

“I was in Qdoba with some of my friends around 10:45 p.m. and I walked outside to get some fresh air,” Lauren said in an e-mail.  “Right as I walked outside, I saw the man driving my car.”

She got on the phone and called her older brother Drew, a senior in the College of Engineering, who was walking west on Kilbourn Avenue, and he came quickly to the intersection.  Minutes later they spotted the car, which had apparently driven around the block and was waiting at the intersection, facing northbound on North 16th Street.

“I still cannot grasp the fact that I walked outside at the exact moment the man drove past me,” Lauren said. “What a coincidence.”

Drew said he hopped into the passenger side of the car while it was stopped and demanded that the perpetrator exit the vehicle, which he did.

“To be honest, it was more of a reaction than anything else,” Drew said in an e-mail.  “I did not even take the time to think. I just went for it.”

Drew said he and his roommate approached the perpetrator, who quickly threw punches, striking them both in the face.

“I was walking across the street talking with a friend and then I heard yelling and screaming” said Mike Tomsic, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, who witnessed the incident.  “I turned and this one guy was yelling at … students around a car so I just assumed they were all drunk, but then one of the kids said, ‘That’s why you tried stealing the car,’ and then a fight broke out.”

At that time, DPS arrived on the scene and the subject was detained for the Milwaukee Police Department.  MPD took the 22-year-old into custody for operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

MPD contacted the Shorewood police, and the vehicle was taken into custody as evidence, but released on Monday.

Drew said if a similar situation arose in the future, he would not attempt the same type of action.

“It feels good that the car is back where it belongs,” Drew said. “My parents were very happy when they found out that my friends and I were all right and everything happened the way it did. However, they advised me to not do that again if the time ever comes.”

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