Bay View Speedway Must Close Early After Robbery String
Police visited gas station 14 times between January 1st and February 11th.
The Speedway gas station and convenience store at the corner of S. Howell Ave. and E. Oklahoma Ave. was getting robbed so frequently earlier this year employees were turning would-be thieves away because of a lack of cash.
“Investigation revealed that a subject walked into the station and demanded money while tapping her waist implying she had a weapon,” reads a police report regarding a January 2nd incident that occurred at approximately 5:38 a.m. “When the clerk told her they had just been robbed and didn’t have any money to give her, the subject left.” The store had been robbed at 12:16 a.m.
It was part of a string of 22 police visits that occurred between July 16th, 2020 and February 11th. Fourteen of the visits took place in 2021.
The police department designated the gas station, located at 369 E. Oklahoma Ave., a “nuisance property” on January 8th. On February 11th, the department found the business was operating without an active license and it was temporarily shuttered.
An abatement plan was put into place that included the addition of security guards and the ordering of bulletproof glass.
“This has been a stressful situation,” said area Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. She said at least one employee, and other neighbors, have been complaining since December. “I am disappointed.”
The issue had become so frequently discussed on the neighborhood Facebook group that by February 15th someone posted: “Petition to rename this group Speedway Neighborhood Watch.” Other posts in the group reference robberies that don’t show up in the police report, indicating that not every robbery may have been reported.
“I feel that some mitigation has been implemented, but it’s not going far enough. I worry about the employees and the surrounding neighbors,” said the alderwoman.
He expressed disbelief that it had come to the point where bulletproof glass was needed.
“Quite frankly, Speedway, this location has utilized the resources of the sixth MPD district way, way too much. You have abused that privilege,” said Borkowski. “They have to know how to behave, how to operate in the community.”
Ald. Chantia Lewis, drawing on a Speedway in her far northwest side district, suggested the store close earlier.
“The people we serve in the middle of the night are critical, essential workers,” said Speedway attorney Erin Moosbrugger. She said having the store closed and only the pumps open would make it less safe for customers.
“It’s an employer and it does provide services that possibly others do not provide,” said Speedway attorney Michael Murray, without providing any examples. “The imposition of bulletproof glass is disheartening, but I thought it’s a good measure. It’s not an inexpensive measure. We thought it was the best avenue to keep our employees safe.”
Speedway loss prevention manager John Cunningham said four of the five internally-designated competitor stores already have bulletproof glass.
Murray advocated against the council reducing the station’s hours. But that’s just what the Common Council did.
“We do not feel that’s a safe alternative,” said Dimitrijevic.
“I think it’s significant to point out that since January 26th, when we reached an agreement with the Milwaukee Police Department, there have only been three issues at the store,” said the attorney.
At that point the bulletproof glass had yet to arrive, with Murray stating it was ordered in January and would take until May or June to be installed. “The cost of doing that was $100,000,” he said. At the time of publication it was still not in place.
A business license for the gas station was renewed, but an extended hours license was denied. The store and pumps cannot be open between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
According to city license records, there are 11 Speedway stations in the city, but only four that are permitted to operate 24 hours a day.
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