‘Dangerous joyride’: Suspects burglarize Bay View home with family inside, steal car and set it on fire

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee police said suspects broke into a home in the Bay View neighborhood early Tuesday, Sept. 29, and stole items including a vehicle, later setting the car on fire on the city's north side.

Officers said the burglary happened around 12:30 a.m. near Austin Street and Lincoln Avenue. 

Jodee Benavides, who lives in the home, said his entire family was awake and the house was completely lit when it happened. His wife was sitting on the couch watching TV, their son was in his room and Benavides was working downstairs when he heard commotion upstairs.

"My wife is screaming like I've never heard her scream before," he told CBS 58. "The part that bothers me most is hearing her be that afraid. I thought she was getting murdered downstairs. It was really awful."

He said after the three suspects entered the side door, they knocked over the family's dog gates, making a lot of noise. They grabbed car keys and his wife's purse before running out of the house. She chased them out of her home, but Benavides told her to come back inside for her safety.

"I don't know if they're armed, so I was struggling with her to get her back in the house to calm down, understanding that it's material things vs living things," he said.

Minutes later, they came back and they took two of her vehicles, but they left one of them on the street in front of her home. The other was found set on fire near 35th and Teutonia. 

"I deduce that it was just some guys looking to have a dangerous joyride," he said. "Just the boldness of the move to come in, and three guys rush a home and take the keys and steal cars, and the fact that after they were scared and run off, ... that they came back just tells me that (they have) carelessness and the disregard for consequences."

A neighbor told CBS 58 that the neighborhood had several break-ins in 2019, and her husband had camera equipment stolen out of his car.

As for why his home was targeted, Benavides said he doesn't know and said other neighbors saw a group of people casing cars and homes nearby on Howell Avenue. He said it's serving as a lesson to his family to be more vigilant.

"We weren't going to bed yet. It wasn't so late in our mind, so we had the door unlocked. So just (the) simple act of locking that door would have prevented the entry," he said.

Milwaukee police are seeking suspects. 

Anyone with information on this burglary is asked to contact the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7360 or Milwaukee Crime Stoppers at 414-224-TIPS.

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