Police recover stolen vehicle after fourth Portage auto theft this year

March 28, 2019 GMT

Portage police recovered and returned a stolen vehicle Wednesday morning after a car and foot chase on the east side of the city, marking the fourth auto theft incident in the last few months.

Two vehicles have been stolen in the past week, and two other vehicles have been stolen since January, said Portage Police Detective Lt. Dan Garrigan.

Although police can’t say all of the incidents are related, Garrigan said he suspects one extended circle of people could be behind several recent car thefts.

He said because of Portage’s close proximity to Madison, the city faces a problem with juveniles stealing cars.

“We’re not that far away. Maybe some of these guys as the squeeze is being put on them in Madison, they’re branching out to backyard communities,” Garrigan said.

According to police call logs, a man reported Friday that a gray Nissan Xterra was stolen from outside Pizza Hut at 401 E. Wisconsin St. in Portage. The vehicle has not yet been located.

Police call logs also show a man reported to police Tuesday that while he was inside Portage Mart for 15 minutes, his unlocked Blue 2007 Chevy Impala with the keys inside had been taken. The vehicle was not immediately located late Tuesday night.

But early Wednesday morning, a police officer observed a vehicle matching the description traveling on East Wisconsin Street, Garrigan said. The vehicle appeared to pull over on East Cook Street for police to conduct a traffic stop.

However, as an officer approached the vehicle, it sped away. Garrigan said police pursued it, but eventually lost the driver.

Later Wednesday morning, police found the suspect vehicle parked along a road, Garrigan said, and officers noticed a separate vehicle pulling away from the area. Officers tracked that vehicle down and found three boys inside.

After a series of interviews, police learned of a possible fourth suspect. Police observed a boy matching the description, and caught the suspect after a foot chase on the east side of Portage.

Two 15-year-olds from Madison are being held at Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, Garrigan said. One of them faces a charge of being party to a crime.

The other boy, whom Garrigan said fled police, faces a charge of theft of a motor vehicle, and charges of eluding and obstructing an officer.

A 17-year-old boy from Portage was released to an adult guardian and given a court order to appear on a charge of being party to a crime, Garrigan said.

Another 17-year-old boy from Madison − who was wanted for illegal contraband charges − was taken to Columbia County Jail. He faces drug charges and a charge of being party to a crime, Garrigan said.

Garrigan said the stolen blue 2007 Chevy Impala was returned to the owner Wednesday afternoon.

Investigations into multiple recent vehicle theft incidents remain open.

Garrigan said residents need to remain vigilant about locking their vehicles and calling police to report suspicious behavior.