Two men are accused of breaking into 10 taverns and churches in the Waupaca and Manawa areas.
Andrew P. Akright, 27, Manawa, faces a 30-count indictment that includes multiple charges of burglary, theft, criminal damage to property, theft of a firearm and armed burglary.
His alleged accomplice, Wesley A. Martin, 23, Waupaca, faces a 26-count indictment with similar charges.
Although most of the burglaries occurred in November, Waupaca police began investigating the string on July 26 when Lt. Geoff Johnson was called out to the First Assembly of God on Berlin Street. When staff arrived at the church that morning, they found that the front door had been pried open and a filing cabinet where cash was usually secured had also been forced open.
Although a small amount of cash was stolen, the burglar had left behind $1,300 in a bank deposit bag in one of the cabinet drawers. Electronic sound equipment, including speakers and a 16-channel power head, were also stolen,
On Oct. 28, Club 22 on Royalton Street in Waupaca reported a burglary. Waupaca Police Officer Dina Flatoff spoke with the owner who arrived at work that morning to discover that someone had kicked in the delivery door, then broke into four gambling machines and stole the cash.
She also noted that someone had rummaged through the cabinets behind the bar and had stolen $180 from the pool league’s kitty jar, as well as a .22-caliber rifle that was a prize in a raffle.
On Nov. 2, Waupaca Police Officer Josh Krueger met with the owner of the Courtside Sports Bar on South Apple Tree Lane. The owner had discovered that someone made forced entry into the establishment after it had closed, broke into and stole cash from the video poker machines, stole money from the cash register, broke into the office and stole more money. The business lost an estimated $3,702 in stolen cash and about $200 in property damage. Chain O’ lakes novelty, which owned the five damaged gaming machines, estimated the cost to repair or replace the machines would exceed $4,250.
On Nov. 14, Waupaca Police Officer Paul Benzschawel was dispatched to Waupaca Taxi on Readfield Street. The manager said a filing cabinet had been pried open and money bags with $492 in cash were missing.
On Nov. 15, the owner of a summer home on Akron Road in the town of Dayton told the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department that someone had made forced entry through the front door. A large number of items were stolen, including a pair of Wisconsin Badger binoculars, two duffle bags, an art deco lamp, an electric grill, a lantern, vintage lights, jewelry, a coconut bra and multiple CDs.
On Nov. 19, Detective Sgt. James Gorman and Deputy Pete Bosquez with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department went to Faith Community Church on County Road K in Waupaca in response to a reported burglary.
Forced entry had been made through a window on the west side of the building. Someone broke into four offices and stole several laptop computers, a video camera and musical instruments.
On Nov. 19, Deputy Pat Gorchals was dispatched to the Union Still on Symco road in the town of Union. Someone made forced entry through the back door stole $370 from the cash register and $100 from a glass jar at the bar.
Video from a security camera showed two men entering the bar. They both wore masks over their faces and gloves. They pried open a gaming machine, but the money had already been removed.
On Nov. 19, Manawa police began investigating a burglary at Steve and Michelle’s Midtown on Bridge Street. Video from a security camera showed two men in the bar at approximately 3 a.m., unsuccessfully looking for money in the cash register and breaking into and taking money from a gaming machine. The two men also went into the basement, broke into the office and broke into a filing cabinet. They also stole a .22-caliber rifle that the bar was raffling.
On Nov. 20, Alliance Fellowship, a church on Harrison Street in Waupaca, reported what appeared to be an attempted break-in. the pastor found pry marks on the door, but there was no sign that anyone actually entered the building.
At approximately 3 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, an alarm company notified the owner of Nelson’s Stike Zone on Oak Street in Waupaca that the bar’s burglary alarm had been activated. She was able to watch a live video feed of the bar and see a man attempting to break into an ATM on the premises.
Four officers from the city and the county responded to the call. When Benschawel arrived, he noticed a man walking from behind the north side of the bar to H & H Recycling. The man stood next to the recycling facility for a short time, then began walking across an open parking lot.
Deputies Kevin Studzinski and Pat McClone then pulled into the lot and illuminated the man with the take-down lights on their squad cars. He dropped a crowbar as he tripped and fell to the ground
Later identified as Akright, the man had a 9mm handgun in his waistband and was wearing a bandana over the lower part of his face, according to the criminal complaint. He was also wearing a baseball cap, a black jacket and neoprene gloves.
When questioned by police, Akright identified Martin as an accomplice. He reportedly told investigators that he began breaking into buildings and stealing because he lost his job and needed the money to pay bills and buy drugs.
According to the criminal complaint, Martin told police that prior to breaking into buildings, he went “car shopping,” whereby he entered unlocked cars and taking cash and any other items.
On Nov. 30, Gorman obtained a search warrant for Martin’s apartment on West Fulton Street, Waupaca. He and other officers seized several laptop computers, a guitar, a telescope and other electronic equipment.