Aug 21 2014


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen wishes to recognize law enforcement’s use of the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network in solving crimes, and he reminds Wisconsinites of the recently launched Silver Alert Program, which is part of the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, or WCAN.


Since the WCAN became operational, almost 5,000 alerts have gone out, assisting law enforcement statewide in solving more than 50 criminal cases and missing or endangered persons investigations.  Below is a snapshot of some recent investigations in which law enforcement benefitted from use of the WCAN.


Off-Duty Officer Recognizes Distinct Truck Damage in WCAN Alert
On August 7, 2014, the Sun Prairie Police Department issued a WCAN alert about a series of gas drive-offs, all involving the same vehicle, which had distinct damage.  Photos of the vehicle were included in the alert.  Other agencies also were investigating reports of drive-offs involving a vehicle with the same description; however, in each drive-off incident the vehicle had different license plates (all of which were reported stolen in other jurisdictions).

Several days after Sun Prairie issued its alert, an off-duty officer from the DeForest Police Department spotted the vehicle from the WCAN alert operating in the City of Madison and contacted the Madison Police Department, which initiated a traffic stop and a consent search, during which officers located some of the stolen plates.  Charges are pending as the investigation continues.


Suspect in Theft of Lottery Ticket Identified Within 30 Minutes of WCAN Alert
On August 4, 2014, the Cudahy Police Department issued a WCAN alert for the theft of lottery tickets from a gas station.  The suspect created a diversion for the store clerk, then reached behind the counter and took $300 in lottery tickets.  A surveillance photo of the suspect was attached to the alert.  Within 30 minutes of issuing the alert, Cudahy Police were contacted by officers with the Greenfield and Germantown Police Departments who identified the individual in the photo.


Officers Solve Crime Before It Was Reported
On July 9, 2014, the Town of Madison Police Department issued a WCAN alert for a suspicious vehicle that had approximately 300 metal pieces of new construction material.  Reports indicate the driver stated to officers that he had found the metal near a dumpster.  The vehicle and the driver matched descriptions in other recent metal theft cases.  Town of Madison Police had the vehicle towed and placed a hold on it while the driver was held on a probation hold.  On July 10, 2014, a business called the Verona Police Department and reported a metal theft, which appeared to match the materials described in the July 9th WCAN alert by the Town of Madison Police Department.  Later, the victim of the theft in Verona identified the stolen property at the impound yard.


To enroll for free, or to learn more about the WCAN, visit the website below:


“These are excellent examples of the value of sharing information quickly and efficiently when investigating crime,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “I encourage the public to sign up for WCAN alerts to keep informed about what’s happening in their community, and with the addition of the Silver Alert program, they’ll also be made instantly aware any time a vulnerable senior is reported missing.”


Silver Alert Program Part of the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network


On August 1, 2014, Wisconsin’s new Silver Alert law (Act 264) took effect to protect Wisconsin’s at-risk or vulnerable senior population.  Silver Alerts go out by email, text message, or fax through the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to notify the public that an adult with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other permanent cognitive impairment is missing.  Anyone may subscribe online to receive Silver Alerts and Crime Alerts for free by email, text or fax.


On August 8, 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Justice activated its first Silver Alert, at the request of the Menomonee Falls Police Department, for an individual who was reported to have gone to a local gas station but didn’t return home.  The alert was cancelled within hours the same day after the individual had been located and was safe.


In partnership with the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Silver Alerts may be broadcast through television and radio, digital billboards, and lottery display terminals.  Alerts also may be displayed on highway digital messaging signs through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.  Silver Alerts will be issued when the following criteria are met:


  • The missing person is 60 years of age or older;
  • The missing person is believed to have Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another permanent cognitive impairment that poses a threat to the individual’s health and safety;
  • There is reasonable belief that the missing person’s disappearance is due to the individual’s impaired cognitive condition;
  • The Silver Alert request is made within 72 hours of the individual’s disappearance;
  • There is sufficient information available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the missing person.


As Alzheimer’s and dementia are not limited to those 60 and older, where individuals are missing and at risk but do not meet the criteria for a Silver Alert, the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network (WCAN) can be utilized to send out a Missing/Endangered alert.


The public and businesses are encouraged to sign up to receive Silver Alerts and Crime Alerts at no cost by going to



With the WCAN, law enforcement officers issue alerts at no cost either by fax, e-mail or text message to individuals and business owners.  Anyone may subscribe to the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network to receive alerts.  To enroll for free, visit