Becky Strabel | Staff writer
BURNETT COUNTY – “We are still working on this very complex rash of burglaries,” Burnett County Sheriff Ron Wilhelm told the Leader this week.
Alan J. Schwartzbauer, 27, Grantsburg, was the first to be charged in connection with numerous burglaries that had targeted Burnett and Polk County taverns between Sept. 6 and Oct. 6.
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Schwartzbauer was charged in two cases involving the Last Call and Midtown Tavern, both in the Town of Meenon. Charges pending include burglary, attempted burglary, theft, two counts of possession of burglarious tools, seven counts of felony bail jumping and two counts of criminal damage to property stemming from incidents that occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
A report came from a clerk at Minit Mart in Grantsburg confirming that Schwartzbauer was in the store on Oct. 3, following the report of the break-ins, and paid $90 in $5 bills. An earlier announcement from the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office warned people to be aware of large quantities of $5 and $10 bills. It is reported that a female was also with him.
On Friday, Oct. 6, a Burnett County detective interviewed a man at the Polk County Jail who may be charged as an accomplice. During the interview, the man stated he provided a ride to Schwartzbauer and a woman and he dropped Schwartzbauer off at the Midtown Tavern. A few minutes later the driver was called to pick him up and then dropped him off at the bar again. This time Schwartzbauer was allegedly wearing a bandana, gloves and was carrying a bolt cutter. The driver was called a few minutes later, and this time Schwartzbauer was upset because he couldn’t get into the building.
They then drove to the Last Call, after it was closed, where Schwartzbauer was dropped off. He returned a short time later with bank bags and some other things. The driver was given half of the money, which was about $2,500, and admitted to the detective that he spent most of the money gambling.
Detectives have identified multiple suspects in connection with the burglaries to several taverns throughout the county. Places that reported break-ins include the American Legion, Dreamers, T-Dawgs and Denny’s Lanes in the village of Grantsburg; Black and Orange, village of Webster; Otis’ Bar, Town of Blaine; and Fishbowl Bar, Town of Swiss, along with the two reported above. They are also working with investigators from Polk and St. Croix counties who are investigating similar burglaries to establishments in their jurisdictions which are believed to involve the same suspects as the incidents in Burnett County.