By Todd Mishler

Copy Editor

Whitewater Police Chief Aaron Raap reported good news early last week, and he issued a plea for residents to heed the department’s warnings about diligence when leaving their vehicles.

Raap confirmed that they arrested an adult male suspect in the series of seven car thefts covering the past three months.

“We have somebody in custody and we think we got our guy,” Raap said. “He confessed to the latest incident on Friday and we think he was involved in most or all of the others. There might be a second person, but this guy was not talking.”

Most of the thefts occurred on the city’s east side, including on Main and Milwaukee streets, and the latest was a near carbon copy of the previous incidents that started on Sept. 18.

“They were almost identical circumstances … the vehicles were unlocked with the keys still in them, and in some of the cases the cars were running,” Raap said.

However, the chief said the other good news is that every vehicle was recovered within a few days.

“None of the vehicles sustained damage, and as far as we know, none of the contents were taken,” Raap said.

That was the case with the second-most recent victim, Danielle Palms, who according to, ran into Casey’s General Store the night of Dec. 9 with her car running and Christmas gifts in the trunk.

“I got out, and about 30 seconds later, he was in my car,” she told the Milwaukee TV station about her harrowing experience that was captured on surveillance cameras.

According to the station, the single mother called police to report the theft of her 2001 Saturn, which contained the presents that she had received for her 5- and 8-year-old daughters through a toy drive.

Raap said these residents have learned a valuable but tough lesson, and he’s hoping others take their stories to heart. He pointed to a situation that could have ended up the same way.

“I have been regularly trying to get out and visit local businesses and get to know people,” said Raap, who was sworn in June 1 upon replacing Lisa Otterbacher. “On Friday, a gentleman was leaving the business while I was entering, and I asked him if that was his car, because it was parked next to mine and they were the only vehicles there. He said it was his.”

It was unlocked and running.

“We’ve posted this on our Facebook page … these things shouldn’t happen, but they do,” Raap said. “People need to be reminded that they should take their keys and lock their vehicles. It was fortunate that no family pets or children were in them.”


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