Due to an unfortunate coincidence of timing, Brookfield police were unable to catch a thief in the act, but they detained and searched him anyway, found him carrying illegal drugs, and still hope to pin a theft charge on him.
At 1:39 p.m. Jan. 19, police were called to a retail theft in progress at Pick ‘n Save, 15170 W. Greenfield Ave., but ended up arresting a 40-year-old Milwaukee man for possession of drugs.
Dispatchers said that the man had a cart full of baby formula, and store security suspected he would try to bolt off with it.
In fact, the man was just heading for the doors with the cart when he spotted a squad car pulling up outside, and he abandoned the goods in the store.
But officers stopped him anyway, and based on his lengthy record, decided to search him. When they patted him down, they felt a small package in his pocket, which proved to contain five small, round, blue pills. They were identified as Xanax, which is illegal without a prescription, and he did not have one.
In the suspect's car were 16 cans of baby formula, which police had every reason to suspect were stolen. Brookfield officers didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him for theft that day, but quickly learned that Village of Pewaukee police were looking for the man in a baby formula theft there. Officers believed they may be able to trace the serial numbers on the recovered formula cans to the Pewaukee case.
The suspect was described in a report as “a very big guy." It took two sets of handcuffs linked together to cuff him behind his back.
Stealing baby formula has become big business in the underground economy. Because of its cost, stolen formula finds a ready market and commands a higher margin of return than most stolen retail goods.