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Racine Police DepartmentIn response to a number of armed robberies in Racine, several bar owners have started to lock their doors at night to control who comes inside.

Over the past several months, several gas stations, bars, convenience stores and other businesses have been robbed at gunpoint.

Carrine J. Fenkl, who owns the Cham Tap, 2511 Durand Ave., said she started locking her doors after her bar was robbed in the early morning hours on Thursday.

“Yes customers are very scared,” she said. “Yes, (it’s been) very dead at night time.”
John Akers, a bartender at George’s Tavern, 1201 N. Main St., said he has a sign on the  front door directing patrons to use an alternate door where they can see who is coming in and out. At night when it’s slow he’s also locking the door.
“That’s so that we can identify who it is through the window,” Akers said. “But that’s only if it is slow.”
While his bar hasn’t been robbed, Akers said he tends to stay later to help make sure the female bartenders get to their cars safely.
Karen Jensen, a bartender at Maxine’s, 835 Washington Ave., said she just had a bartender quit and get another job because she was scared of the possibility of being robbed.

“Knock on wood that we’re in a pretty good position for being by Racine PD,” Jensen said. “But we’ve definitely been down the last few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s because of spring or if it’s because of the robberies. It’s been a rough couple weeks.

“Everyone is fed up with it and a lot are locking their doors,” she said. “My mom (who own’s the bar) refuses to do that.”

Jensen said officers with the Racine Police Department have been keeping in contact.

“They’ll come in couple times at night and do a walk through and they have parked in our lot. It could be deterring the robberies, and the drinkers, I’m not sure,” she said. “I’ve been seeing where a lot of people have been having bonfires.”

Joey LeGath, who owns several bars in the Racine area, has also been locking the doors to his taverns. He has several people receiving the video feeds from multiple locations and uses the video camera feeds to keep an eye on who is coming in.

“If you’ve got a mask on, you aren’t coming into my bar,” LeGath said.

He also knows of numerous bars doing this in the Racine area. But the rash of robberies has also caused quite a bit of uneasiness with customers too.
LeGath said that he thinks business is down because people are scared for their safety after hearing about the robberies, but he also believes that when people encounter a locked door that they think he’s closed.
“When my customers know why we are locking them, they get the reason we are doing it.. . and they understand,” LeGath said. “Our customers are important and so is their safety.”

We posed the question of whether patrons and bar owners have changed their behavior with all of the robberies and if they are comfortable with the doors being locked. Here’s what they said:

Kassie Claus I stay out of bars because of robberies fights ect. I’d rather stay home and be safe!

Dan Nettleton I stay out of bars and conceal carry. I refuse to be a “good little victim” like some suggest

Paul Danielson I can just see a customer pulling out their gun and innocent people getting hurt.

Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by: calling 1-888-636-9330, email:, or text message: RACS to 274637(crimes).

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.