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Wisconsin State Journal

Jan. 10, 1974

Cab Firms Seek New Fare Boost


Of The State Journal Staff

            Rising gasoline costs are driving at least two of Madison’s four taxicab companies to seek fare increases in addition to a 5-ccnt boost approved in December by the City Council.

            Spokesmen for Yellow Cab Co. the city’s largest fleet, and Badger Cab Co., said Wednesday they will apply for at least another 5-cent raise from the new City Transportation Commission.

To Appear Today

            The spokesmen said they will go before the commission at its first official meeting after its scheduled organizational session today.

            All four Madison taxicab companies had sought a 10-ccnt increase in base fares, but were given instead a 5-cent increase for a 90-day trial period.

            Mrs. Dawn Lovell, business administrator for Yellow Cab, said her company is just changing meters now to reflect the temporary increase. She said the change, however, is insufficient to cover the continually rising cost of gasoline.

Rising Costs Cited

            Harold Burgdorff, manager of Badger Cab, said the company is anticipating at least a 5-cent increase “based on current costs,”  but the amount could increase by the time the commission meets.

            Burgdorff said that besides rapidly rising gasoline costs, fuel oil prices were just increased 7 cents a gallon, raising the cost of heating garage facilities about $100 a month.

            Under the temporary increase, metered cab base fares arc 55 cents for the first one-fifth mile and zone cab fares are 60 cents for the first zone.

            Spokesmen for Checker Cab Co. and Red Cab Co. could not be reached for comment, but both companies are expected to seek similar rate increases.


Capital Times

Feb. 14, 1974

Yellow Cab Drivers Stage Slowdown As Talks Stall


Of The Capital Times Staff

            The owner of Yellow Cab Co. insisted today that there was no problem with his drivers. The drivers said, however, that he may have said that because it wasn’t a particularly busy day.

            The drivers voted 26-1 Wednesday night for a technical following of all company rules—which amounts to a slowdown.

            The drivers, affiliated with Teamsters Local 695, are objecting to the company’s withdrawal of the Christmas bonus, the firing of an employe and what they contend is a lack of seriousness in current negotiations.

            Following company rules to the letter can, especially during busy periods, raise havoc with the smooth movement of cabs.

            Drivers observe the exact speed limit at all times, for instance, and precede all radio transmissions in detail using the term “Yellow Cab Number” frequently.

            When asked about the difficulty with drivers, Yellow Cab owner Kenneth C. Ossman insisted to The Capital Times that there was no trouble. “Everything is in good order,”  he said.

            “He knows better,”  said one driver. “And if we had more business today, he would really know it.”

            Yellow Cab is the only unionized cab company in Madison. Its drivers organized about two months ago.

            Members said the Christmas bonus, paid traditionally for many years, was suddenly withdrawn. They said the bonus amounted to only a few dollars for some drivers to as much as $100 for veteran drivers.

            One driver took a leave of absence and went to New Orleans, they said. He returned a week late which they contend is not unusual.

            “The only reason he was fired was because be was a fairly active union member,”  one driver said.

            The drivers contend the company is not serious in negotiations.

            “The maim items are money a»d establishing a grievance procedure,”  a driver said. “The company won’t even talk about a grievance procedure aid they actually aren’t offering any pay increase.

            “We get 40 per cent of gross revenue now. We’ve checked into other cities and drivers get a lot more. We asked for 50 per cent. The company won’t even go 41 per cent. All they have offered is one percent more if your gross is $700 over two weeks. You have to work 12 to 14 hours a day to reach that.”

            As part of the slowdown, most drivers reported to work at 6 a.m. today when they ordinarily would divide the reporting time between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. They said they plan to all quit at 3 p.m. and that night drivers will not report until 4 p.m., leaving a one-hour period without drivers.

            They said another negotiation session with the company is planned for Friday and it will be decided after that whether to continue the slowdown.


Wisconsin State Journal

Feb. 15, 1974

Driver Protest Slows Yellow Cab Operation

            A one-day protest by Yellow Cab drivers snarled the company’s operations for an hour Thursday afternoon, union spokesmen said.

            The drivers, affiliated with Teamsters Local 695, voted the “by-the-rulebook” slowdown Wednesday night in protest of the company’s withdrawal of Christmas bonuses, the firing of an employe, and negotiation problems.

            THE SLOWDOWN was implemented within the limits of company rules with the intention of “throwing a monkey wrench” in the company’s normally smooth operations, a driver said Thursday night.

            Dayside drivers, for instance, usually report to work at informally staggered times between 6 and 7 a m. Thursday most drivers reported at 6 a.m. on the dot — leaving the company short on cabs around quitting time at 3 p.m. because the night drivers didn’t show up until 4 p.m.

            According to one cab man, “A lot of people had to wait for an hour for a cab today.”

            OTHER STALLING tactics used during the day included driving at exact speed limits and tying up communications by giving long, exact terms in radio transmissions.

            The company and union representatives resume contract talks today.

            Kenneth Ossman, Yellow Cab Co. owner, late Thursday would not discuss the effects of the slowdown.

            Drivers have threatened to hold another slowdown if today’s negotiation session does not indicate progress.


Wisconsin State Journal

March 21, 1974

Cab Firms Threaten Lawsuit Over Fares

            Madison taxi cab companies reacted angrily Wednesday to the City Council’s rejection of a rate increase package, threatening possible legal action if the increase is not reconsidered.

            Michael R. Bayles, a Yellow Cab Co. supervisor speaking for Yellow, Badger, and Checker cab companies, said the firms “will probably seek relief through the courts if we don’t get relief from the council.”

            TUESDAY Night the council extended a temporary increase granted to the companies for another 90 days, but turned down requests for a nickel base-rate increase on meter cabs, a dime increase for zone cabs and a 10-cent surcharge for all trips designed as a pass-through for rising gasoline expenses.

            Bayles contended the council’s delay on the increase had the effect of “not permitting us to make a fair and reasonable return.”

         “WE’RE ONLY asking for a rate to give us money to cover losses which have already occurred,”  he said. “At least let us operate with enough to stay in business,”  Bayles added. He said the companies may also challenge the right of the city to determine rate structure changes, contending the council did not understand what they were dealing with.

            He said the companies favor giving the regulatory powers to the city transportation director or possibly to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

            BAYLES SAID the companies would take no action until next Thursday when they will approach the Transportation Commission to attempt to revive the rate increase.

            He said Yellow Cab Company statistics showed a loss of $22,708 in 1973 and the operations were “a losing proposition” for all the companies.

            Under the first 90-day nickel rate increase approved by the council in December, Bayles said Yellow Cab had a profit of $1,100 in January and a loss of $570 in February.


Capital Times

March 23, 1974

Taxi Owner Rips Rate Rise Refusal

            A blast at the Madison City Council for “telling us we should continue operating at a loss — that we have no right to make profits” was launched Thursday by Raymond Veloff, owner of the Checker Cab Co. here.

            Veloff’s criticism followed denial Tuesday by the City Council of a proposal to raise meter cab rates to 60 cents for the first one-fifth mite from the present 55-cent charge granted three months ago.

            The Council Tuesday also rejected a 10-ccnt surcharge for all trips, designed to defray the rising cost of gasoline. It continued the present fare for another three months.

            Veloff said that James McCleary of the City Department of Transportation had made a complete study of the taxi rates in the city and that the Council had not heeded his recommendations that the rates be increased by five cents.

            Despite the Department of Transportation figures “with all the facts and information” presented by McCleary, Veloff said, “the aldermen in so many words might as well have called him a liar.”

            Veloff said that McCleary presented straightforward information which contained the monthly and annual statements of the Checker firm and of the Yellow Cab Co. Veloff described the statements as the same ones submitted lo the Internal Revenue Service.

            “Some of the members questioned our figures,”  he said. “They are legitimate statements. The council is just telling us we should continue to operate at a loss, that we have no right to make profits. They are just telling us — ‘tough, live with it.’”

            Veloff said the gas price for his firm had gone up over 60 per cent.

            Commenting on the surcharge sought by the taxi firms, he said that the surcharge would be based on the trip, not the number of people in the cab.

            “The reasoning behind the surtax involves the number of trips versus the number of gallons of gasoline consumed. It would just about cover the increase in the price of gas,”  he said.

            He noted that airline limousines received rate increases within 15 days after application from the State Public Service Commission.

            “Both Yellow and Checker lost $20,000 last year,”  he claimed. “I haven’t paid myself for seven weeks while trying to meet my business obligations.”

            He said that “we could raise rates, but if we do, the Council will probably get an injunction to prevent it, pull our cabs off the street, or refuse to renew our license in June.”

            Alternatives facing the taxi cab companies were listed by Veloff as forcing the company to go to lease, whereby the drivers lease the car as independents and buy their own gas, or giving the drivers a raise and letting them buy their gas elsewhere instead of through the company.

            He said that the cab companies could, as a last resort, bring a suit against the city.

            “We (Checker and Yellow) have a lot of employment involved without the city playing God,”  Veloff stated.


Wisconsin State Journal

April 15, 1974

Strike Settled at Yellow Cab

            Taxi-drivers for the Madison Yellow Cab Co. returned to work Sunday morning after a contract settlement Saturday night ended a one-day strike by members of Teamsters Local 695.

            About 85 percent of the drivers walked of the job at 2:55 a.m. Saturday and operations were suspended by 6 p.m., according to Michael Bayles, supervisor.

Capital Times

April 26, 1974

Committee Recommends Increase in Taxi Rates

            An increase in taxicab rates was recommended by the City Transportation Commission Thursday night.

            In a report for next week’s City Council meeting, the commission recommended a 25-cent hike in meter rates and a 5-cent raise in zone cab rates.

            This would make the flag rate — the initial charge when the ride begins — from 55 cents to 80 cents for meter cabs. The initial zone charge would go from 60 to 65 cents.

            The commission did not recommend any change in the present fare schedule for additional miles. This is now 10 cents for each additional one-fifth mile in meter cabs, and 15 cents for each additional zone for zone cabs.

            Approval of the boost was strongly urged by Teamsters Union business agent Donald Eaton, representing newly organized drivers for the Yellow Cab Co.

            The Teamsters recently signed their first contract with Yellow Cab.

            Eaton told the commission that the rate hikes were reflected in increased driver pay in the new labor agreements.

            City cab companies have sought boosted rates since early last summer, contending that they have been losing money, largely because of higher gasoline costs.

            In December, the council granted the small, interim boost but said higher increases would not be granted until better documented evidence of need was shown.


Capital Times

May 3, 1974

Taxi Rates Boosts OK’d By Council

            Major increases in Madison taxicab rates were approved by the City Council this week.

            The hikes went through following inspection of the cab companies’ financial records by the city Transportation Commission. The records showed substantial operating losses, in large part due to higher gas costs.

            Donald Eaton, Teamsters business manager representing Yellow Cab Co. drivers, urged the Council to adopt the increases, saying a new contract was contingent upon the firm getting the higher rates so it could stay in business.

            Badger and Checker cab companies also are affected.

            Metered taxi rates will rise to 80 cents for the first one-fifth mile, up from 55 cents, while zoned taxi rates will go to 65 cents, instead of 60 cents, for the first passenger from any point to any other point within a zone.


Capital Times

July 30, 1974

Knife-Toting Passenger Robs Cabbie

            “Give me the money because I’m in a lot of trouble with the Mafia.”

            With that remark and a hunting knife in his hand, a passenger robbed a yellow cab driver of a dollar bill and his coin changer shortly before sunup today on Dondee Road.

            The robber, in his early 20s, was about 6 feet tall, and 175 pounds with long, light-colored and “bushy” hair. Last seen wearing blue jeans and a matching jacket, he disappeared between some houses on the one block long East Side street.

            Driver Leo Sauk told police the culprit had flagged him down from a phone booth near a K-Mart Store on the South Beltline, and asked for a ride to Dondee Road.

When they arrived on the street, Sauk said, he turned on the interior light and turned to face his passenger holding a knife in the back seat.


Capital Times

Nov. 1, 1974

Checker Cab Drops Request for Rate Hike

            The Checker Taxi Company today withdrew its request to the City Council for a rate increase.

            Checker President and General Manager R. D. Veloff said in a letter to Mayor Paul Soglin and the Council he was withdrawing the request because operating costs, while high, are stabilizing.

            “Because we are now operating at a slight profit, I feel that at the present time a rate increase is not a necessity,”  Veloff said. “We will do our best to hold down our costs and thus hold down the cost of riding to the public.”

            He said he felt that if “all business and labor will hold themselves back from price increases and wage increases, we can all help to stabilize the economy as President Ford is urging us to do.”

            He said he hoped Checker Cab could “maintain the present rates for a long period of time.”

            A spokesman for the Yellow Cab Co., which also has asked the Council for a rate increase, said she knew of no present plans by the company to withdraw its request. She expressed surprise at Checker’s action.


Capital Times

Nov. 16, 1974

Teamster Candidate Says “No Deal” With Marketti


Capital Times City Editor

            Glen Van Keuren, the man who is heading the Teamsters for Democracy slate in the current election of Teamsters Local 695, said today he has “absolutely no deals” with former business agent James Marketti should he be successful in the election.

            Van Keuren is one of four candidates for the powerful secretary-treasurer’s post of the Madison-based, 5,000-member union which has been under a strict international union trusteeship for the past year.

            Some of Van Keuren’s opponents have claimed in campaign literature that Van Keuren will bring the controversial Marketti back to the local if Van Keuren wins the election.

            “Jim Marketti hasn’t asked me far a job and I haven’t offered him one,”  said Van Keuren, who is a full-time business agent for Local 695.

            “I’m not a front man far anyone in this election,”  he added. “I’ve made no promises to anyone.”

            Van Keuren’s opponents in the election are Robert Rutland, a former Milwaukee and Chicago Teamster who has been running the local for the international trusteeship, Roger Witz, a semi-truck driver who has the backing of the retired secretary-treasurer, A. E. “Al” Mueller; and Donald Fillner, a truck driver for Madison’s Findorff Construction Co.

            Local 695 has been involved in a simmering internal dispute that has highly factionalized the membership.

            It all started in early 1973 when a group of the members accused then Secretary-Treasurer Donald Eaton and Marketti of mishandling strike fund benefits. After The Capital Times detailed the internal dispute in a series of four articles in October, 1973, Frank E. Fitzsimmons, the Teamsters International president, imposed the trusteeship.

            Marketti was promptly fired from his job as business agent and Eaton was demoted from secretary-treasurer to business agent. Eaton has since left the local to become a mediator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Minneapolis.

            After his firing, Marketti announced the formation of Teamsters for Democracy, an organization which he said would be dedicated to “returning control of Local 695 to the members.”

            Van Keuren said today he has become the top candidate for Teamsters for Democracy “because they came to me and asked me to help them out.”

            “I’m not a militant,”  he said. “But I do have a lot of experience in this local.”

“When they (TFD) first asked me to be their candidate I said ‘No,’” he continued. “But they convinced me that what they were doing was for the better for the union and the least I could do was to help them.”

             “Jim Marketti is now working for the United Mine Workers and is living in Denver,”  Van Keuren added. “He isn’t running Teamsters for Democracy.”

            Another TFD member, John August, who is chief steward for the Yellow Cab Co.’s Teamsters unit, took exception to a Capital Times story Friday which described the Teamsters for Democracy as being the “young, militant” faction of the membership.

            August said the TFD’s slate in the current election is composed of veteran union members with the youngest being 38.

            TFD was formed, he said, mainly to fight the international’s trusteeship by organizing the membership against it and to file suit in court. He also pointed out that Marketti has since left Madison and contended that he hasn’t been involved in the TFD’s current activities.

            Mueller, who is helping the Witz campaign, insisted, however, that Marketti is still very much behind the TFD efforts.

             “All I know is what I’ve been told,’’ Mueller commented. “And I’ve been told that if Van Keuren wins, Marketti’s coming hack.”

            The retired secretary-treasurer who now runs a farm near Watertown said that Marketti was instrumental in formulating the TFD slate of candidates which was decided upon just last month.

            “He drafted the TFD’s platform and he led the convention when they nominated their officers,”  Mueller insisted.

            Another issue in the election is Rutland’s eligibility to run for office. Under the local’s bylaws, a person must be a member for two years before he can run for office, but Rutland has been with Local 695 for less than a year.

            International President Fitzsimmons has waived that requirement for this election, however, thereby making Rutland eligible. The issue came up this week at the nomination meetings, but reportedly Rutland ruled any question on the subject out of order.

            The election is being run by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to ward off any questions on the “honesty” of the balloting.

            The WERC is expected to mail the ballots to the members by the end of next week. They must be returned to the state agency by Dec. 16 when they will be counted.


Capital Times

Nov. 19, 1974

Walkout Will Last at Least Two Weeks

Bus Strike Will Snag Holiday

            A union spokesman predicted today that the strike by Greyhound Bus Co. will last at least two weeks. For thousands of travelers, that will mean transportation complications over the Thanksgiving weekend.

            Airline and bus company representatives said today they expect an increase in ridership as the holiday approaches, but reported it has not yet begun.

            Amalgamated Transit Union business agent Gilbert Braund said it would take at least two weeks for the 16,000-member union to ratify a new contract “once the company comes across with an offer that could be accepted.”

            Braund is business agent for bus drivers here and in Rockford, Ill., and Dubuque, Iowa.

            While passengers were stranded in many parts of the nation when drivers walked off their jobs, only a few passengers had trouble in the Madison area, according to Oscar Sundberg, district manager for Greyhound.

            “Most of them were going to Stevens Point or Whitewater and they called to get someone to pick them up,”  Sundberg said.

            Over 80 persons are on strike in Madison, Braund said, but no picket lines will be set up unless the company tries to operate.

            The problems for students going home for Thanksgiving may have to be dealt with in a variety of ways, said Mike Bogen, a travel agent with the Travel Center, 544 State St.

            “Students going to Chicago, for example, will have to fly or catch rides or hitchhike,”  Bogen said. “But flying is about four times as expensive as a bus, so I think we might see mass hitchhiking out there.”

            An employe of Hemispheric Travel, 152 W. Johnson St., said that agency’s business has been severely curtailed by the strike. Hemispheric is the local Greyhound Charter Service agent.

            “About 75 per cent of our business is with the Greyhound charters,”  said Hemispheric employe Julie Carrington, “and there aren’t any charters, of course. Actually this was a good time of year for us to have them go on strike — if they get it done before Christmas.”

            Hemispheric’s airline travel service, she said, hasn’t increased much yet, but she said business at both the airlines and Amtrak — which Hemispheric also handles — would pick up soon.

            No one answered Amtrak’s informational toll-free number this morning.

            Greyhound’s only competitor in Madison is Badger Bus Service, which runs passenger service between Madison and Milwaukee, as well as charter and package express services. An employe said they “haven’t noticed any difference yet,”  but added, “it definitely will have an effect on the package charter services.”

            One Madison traveler found an unusual —and expensive — solution to the dilemma of a Chicago appointment and no transportation.

            He called Yellow Cab Co. here this morning, a dispatcher reported, and started out by taxi. But the cab’s front universal joint broke near Janesville and another one had to be called from Beloit to complete the trip.

            The bill for the 180-mile trip was $108.20.

            “I expect we’ll get more of those calls with the strike on now,”  the dispatcher said. “We’ve had calls to take people to La Crosse and Milwaukee, and they call from Sun Prairie all the time.”


Wisconsin State Journal

Dec. 12, 1974

Cab Driver Robbed of $25 at Knifepoint

            A stocking-capped taxi customer, armed with a knife, stole about $23 Wednesday night from Yellow Cab Co. driver Robert Hammersley, 48, when he arrived on a radio dispatched call about 9:45 p.m. to the 3800 block of Petterle PI.

            Hammersley was unhurt. Six minutes later he radioed that the robber entered one cab door and exited through another with all the bills from his pockets and his dashboard coin changer. A man’s voice telephone call had sent Hammersley to Petterle PI., the Yellow Cab dispatcher said

            The robber was described as a black man, aged 22 to 25, from 5-feet-9 to 6-feet tall, wearing a brown leather jacket and blue stocking cap pulled over his face.


Capital Times

Dec. 12, 1974

Robbers Strike Six Victims Overnight


Of The Capital Times Staff

            Armed desperados hard bent on obtaining drugs and cash remained at large today following an unusual night of criminal activity here.

            At least six persons — including tenants in a Mifflin Street apartment building, cab drivers and a pedestrian — were either robbed or the victims of attempted robberies since 11 Wednesday night.

            Police said “a drug rip-off” was the apparent motive of a gunman and an accomplice who late Wednesday night forced their way into an occupied upstairs apartment at 219 E. Mifflin St., and after a fruitless search there, went downstairs to another apartment, where an attempt to gain entry at gunpoint was unsuccessful.

            Two drivers for Yellow and Checker cab companies were held up in separate incidents in the 700 block of Vera Court and the 200 block of West Gilman Street. The robbers took a total of $105.

            One of the drivers told officers his assailant put a hunting knife in his side and said, “I am on dope. I need money. You got a good, secure job, so give me your money.”

            In another incident, a 19-year-old man walking home from a late-night party on the East Side, was grabbed from behind by a knife-wielder but broke away only to be pursued by the mugger for a short distance.


Wisconsin State Journal

Dec. 22, 1974

Police, Merchants Move to Halt Stickup Epidemic

            Armed robbery can be death looking for a place to happen.

            With a record 189 stickups in Madison and suburbs, this year, many committed by nervous young gunmen, that fear has police, merchants, and their employes working together to prevent holdups in 1975.

            Regular squad car beat police and plainclothes Special Operation Section (SOS) officers are working special hours to watch the most vulnerable night “convenience” stores — groceries, service stations, and restaurants — where past holdups have occurred mostly in the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. hours Wednesday through Friday nights.

            Crime prevention lawmen, headed by Madison Detective Supervisor Henry Kinden and Sheriff’s Capt. Earl Sorenson, have been working with business owners on an individual basis and in group seminars to relay robbery prevention methods to them.

            The businessmen, such as William D. Tanner, general manager of 16 Madison area all-night Stop-N-Go groceries that have been favorite holdup targets, have followed police advice, removing window signs that obstruct vision by police from the outside, decreasing the amount of cash kept in check-out tills, hiring extra help to eliminate lone clerks. Employes are instructed on how to react and what to observe for later identification of suspects if they are confronted by an armed robber.

            Vickie Wright, a late-night clerk at a Collage Grove Rd. Slop-N-Go store that was robbed last week, said she and all other employes in the chain have been instructed not to resist an armed robber.

            Miss Wright said Stop-N-Go bosses make spot checks, to insure that there is not too much money in the check-out cash registers. Manager Tanner said that, with the surge of robberies the past five months, a maximum of $50 is to be kept in any Stop-N-Go till, with other money dropped in newly-installed Duncan brand “dunk in” safes that cannot he opened by the employes.

            Signs are posted to notify would-be robbers that the clerks on duty have no key to open the safes.

            “Maybe we’re too suspicious, but many times we tell somebody who looks suspicious that we don’t have money to cash a $10 or $20 bill. We just play it cool,”  Miss Wright said.

            She added that it was reassuring to see a police car drive by the store every few minutes. Tanner said there is a coffee pot working in every Stop-N-Go store and “we’d be more than happy to have policemen stop in anytime for a cup.”

            Tanner said all his store clerks have been instructed not to contest a robber, “don’t act like a hero,”  and to stay calm to observe every detail possible about the robber to relay later to police.

            Detective-Supervisor Charles Lulling, senior member of the Madison robbery squad, said the lack of identification of robber suspects’ by victims has been the main obstacle in making arrests and obtaining convictions.

            Some businessmen, like Tanner, have hired “rent-a-cops” from private guard firms, particularly to be present at opening and closing times when numerous stickups have occurred.

            Guy Kaplan, a Yellow Cab Co. dispatcher, said his firm and other Madison taxi companies advise their drivers to carry no more than $5 change, to get more “personal” information on calling customers about who they are and where they are going, and to keep repeated radio contact with the dispatcher to forestall holdups of drivers like two that occurred last week.

            Charles G. Toycen, owner of the Bottle Stop liquor store, 2734 E. Washington Ave., robbed twice in the past year, has alarm-wired his store. He keeps up to four employes at a time “because one clerk is too enticing to a robber,”  and, on police advice, doesn’t leave cash on the premises. He’s also taken signs off windows to give patrolling police view of the store from outside.

            The Madison officers working robbery prevention, Robert J. Birrenkott and James Joachim, said they wished all businessmen and employes would take similar precautions. “It takes their cooperation to prevent holdups,”  Birrenkott said.

            Sheriff’s Detective Norman Fortun said he and Sorenson are working with local police in surrounding municipalities to impress businessmen in smaller localities that armed holdups can happen to them as well as in Madison, Milwaukee, or Chicago and that they should take preventive action. “We’re trying to deal with crime before the fact,”  Fortun said.

            In Monona, where there have been six holdups since August compared to only two last year, Detective William Diebold echoed other police opinions that more severe court action on convicted robbers would help decrease future holdups. Businessmen Tanner and Toycen agreed that “police are doing all they can, but the courts could and should be a better deterrent to the thieves,”  Tanner said.

            “We need the courts’ cooperation so that the risk has to be more than the reward to a robber,”  Birrenkott said.

            There have been no deaths or serious injuries in this year’s holdups. “But, eventually, somebody’s going to get hurt or killed, even if it’s accidental from a nervous robber or a businessman trying to protect himself and property,”  Diebold said.

            There is no Wisconsin law forbidding a merchant to have a gun, but he or she could be subject to charge if one were used on a robber. Most business people carry robbery insurance instead of a gun.

            All lawmen recommend that victims do not contest robbers. “That’s our police job. We’ll provide the resistance,”  Lulling said.



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