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MPD: 2 men steal 9-foot tall patio heater, patio chairs

Two men reportedly stole an outdoor patio heater and patio chairs from Granite City Brewery just after midnight Friday, according to a release.

The restaurant manager noticed two men loading one of the 9-foot patio heaters into an older white cargo van around 12:05 a.m.

By the time the manager ran out to confront the two men, they were driving away with the $2,000 heater and four patio chairs, police said.

Attentive customer helps police catch suspected bank robber

A regular customer at a west side bank played a role in helping police catch a man suspected of robbing the bank Tuesday afternoon.

Madison police said the 43-year-old customer was the drive-thru at Anchor Bank at 333 S. Westfield Road at 3:05 p.m. when he spotted a man wearing a puffy fake beard, floppy fishing style hat, sunglasses, and a poorly fitting suit walk into the bank. Police said he told the teller, who he knew, that he had a bad feeling about the man.

Seconds later, the teller mouthed the words, “Call the cops,” to the man in the drive-thru, according to a police report.

The man told police he decided to follow the suspected robber as he left the bank, keeping a safe distance, until the car he was following pulled into a driveway in the 7300 block of Tree Lane. He was on the phone with dispatchers the whole time.

Police said the man couldn’t pinpoint where the suspect had gone, but a police dog also tracked the suspect to the same area.

Madison college students create algae-removal system

A system that clears up surface-level algae by slurping it away and depositing it into a dumpster will make its debut this summer in Madison lakes.

Engineering students at Madison Area Technical College designed and developed the system to address algae blooms that have caused beach closures in recent years. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that that the group of about 25 students were hired by the local nonprofit Clean Lakes Alliance and given a $5,000 budget.

The students plan to hold the algae-removal system's trial run late next month at Warner Park Beach on Lake Mendota's north shore.

If the method is successful, it will be expanded to other beaches in future years.

Man suspected in three robberies arrested following pursuit

A Madison man faces numerous charges following a series of robberies Tuesday night and Wednesday morning around the city.

The incidents started with a robbery at a PDQ on North Stoughton Road just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police.

Police said two other robberies happened at a Hy-Vee on Whitney Way and a Walgreens on the corner of Stoughton and E. Washington about an hour later. Police said in each case, a man entered a store and stole money out of the cash register after it opened. In one of the incidents, a cashier was able to get a vehicle description and a plate number and pass it on to police.

Soon after the incident at Walgreens, Capitol Police spotted a vehicle matching that description headed eastbound on East Washington Avenue. Madison police joined the pursuit and followed the car to Tenney Park.

Police said the man stopped the car and fled on foot, where he was caught by Madison police officers.

Men reportedly armed with gun chasing teen

Police said a west Madison teen was being chased Friday by an armed group of men.

Madison police said a concerned North Wickham Court resident called for police Friday at 4:28 p.m. after spotting a neighborhood teenager being chased by four young men, one of whom was reportedly armed with a "short shotgun," according to the witness.

Officers arrived to learn the four men had driven off, but they found the 17-year-old who had been chased. He said he was being pursued, though he didn't know why, by people he believed to be gang affiliated.

The teen said he was too busy running to notice any weapons. He was not caught and not injured.

First read of Madison Public Market plan met with praise

About 60 public market enthusiasts appeared to like the city’s $9 million-$15 million idea to turn the East Johnson city garage into an indoor public market that would include selling prepared foods, local produce and arts and crafts.

“A lot still needs to be worked out on these operational questions. Like how many days a week is the public market open,” Madison project manager Dan Kennelly said. “Things like hours of operation. And days of the week. And months of the year. How does this place really become the epicenter of the food system in southern Wisconsin.”

Public members viewing the draft business plan Tuesday at the Goodman Community Center gave their input by working in small groups to fill out worksheets.

Work-release inmate missing from custody

A work-release Dane County inmate was declared missing from custody Tuesday evening, officials said.

The Dane County Sheriff's Office said 25-year-old Thomas D. Brooks, of Madison, was released from the Ferris Center on Rimrock Road at 5:52 a.m. to volunteer as part of his Huber sentence. He did not return as scheduled and is declared absent without leave, or AWOL.

Brooks is 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 145 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black undershirt, dark gray pants and black boots.

The sheriff's office said Brooks is serving a sentence for strangulation, battery, violation of a domestic no contact order and resisting or obstructing.