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Trial Begins Monday for Man Suspected in Subway Restaurant Burglaries
MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pleased to announce the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network has helped multiple agencies identify an individual suspected of burglarizing Subway restaurants in Escanaba, MI, and Wisconsin. The suspect is scheduled to face trial in Michigan on Monday, November 4, 2013.
“As this narrative shows, skilled police work combined with the effective information sharing provided by the Crime Alert Network helped these agencies quickly identify their suspect,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.
On December 13, 2012, the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network (WCAN) was contacted by the Escanaba Department of Public Safety to determine if there had been burglaries at Subway restaurants in Wisconsin that may be related to two Subway burglaries in Escanaba the prior evening. Escanaba investigators reported the suspect would enter the building, look for the safe, and then leave for 10 to 20 minutes to see if law enforcement would respond to a silent alarm. When there was no response, the suspect would return to grind open the safes.
Surveillance photos showed the Escanaba burglaries all involved the suspect using a power tool to gain access to the safe. The suspect wore gloves, a ski mask, dark jacket and pants, and white shoes. A white bag and white extension cord also were visible in the photos.
At the time, there had been recent WCAN alerts for Subway burglaries in Wisconsin with similar suspects and break-ins. These WCAN alerts, some only days prior, had been issued by the City of Delafield Police Department, City of Prairie du Chien Police Department, Ashwaubenon Public Safety, and the La Crosse Police Department. Saukville Police Chief Jeffrey Goetz and Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Gary Speth had done extensive investigative work on the Subway burglaries in their communities and forwarded their information to Escanaba DPS.
On December 15, 2012, Escanaba DPS Officer Darren Smith returned to work after being off and recalled that around midnight on the 12th, he observed a minivan parked behind a restaurant two-and-a-half blocks away from the Subway. The unoccupied vehicle, which had Wisconsin plates, was parked in an unusual position. The officer ran the plates, and identified the owner as Brook Grzelak. When the officer returned an hour later, the vehicle was gone, but Officer Smith later realized the vehicle’s position gave its occupant a direct line of sight to the Subway restaurant. This information was forwarded to Escanaba DPS Detective Todd Chouinard, who then contacted Ashwaubenon Public Safety Investigator Robert Messer.
The Ashwaubenon investigator went to the home of the registered owner, Brook Grzelak, and started taking pictures when he heard over the radio that Brown County dispatch was sending a deputy to take a larceny complaint at a sheriff’s office satellite office from complainant, Brook Grzelak, who resides at the address where the Ashwaubenon investigator was currently located. The investigator contacted the Brown County deputy who was interviewing Brook Grzelak as the victim of a larceny, and realized Mr. Grzelak was wearing the same jacket as the suspect in the surveillance photos.
During a consent search of the suspect’s vehicle, investigators recovered register trays containing cash, a white bag containing a grinder and white extension cord, checks from the restaurants, a ski mask and gloves. The suspect was arrested and extradited to Michigan, where he is scheduled to face trial November 4, 2013. Other charges are pending, and authorities are investigating whether Mr. Grzelak is connected to similar burglaries in other states.
A defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove its allegations at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
Since it became operational in fall of 2011, more than 2,700 Wisconsin Crime Alert Network alerts have gone out. WCAN alerts have played a role in solving more than three dozen criminal investigations and missing/endangered person cases. With the WCAN, law enforcement officers issue alerts at no cost either by fax, e-mail or text message to individuals and business owners, who may enroll online to receive alerts at a cost of $12 a year. To enroll or to learn more about the WCAN, visit the website: http://www.wisconsincrimealert.gov/.
The WCAN also is hosting free crime prevention webinars for subscribers. The next scheduled training is “Financial Fraud – How to Protect Yourself,” scheduled for Thursday, November 14th, 2013, from 1:00 pm to 1:45 pm. For more information and to register, visit: http://www.wisconsincrimealert.gov/Learn.html