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Oconomowoc woman charged with alleged Books & Company robbery

A 40-year-old woman was charged on Monday with allegedly robbing the independently owned Books & Company bookstore on Summit Avenue in the City of Oconomowoc on Feb. 5.

Heather J. Preiss, 419 Summit Ave. in Oconomowoc, was charged on Feb. 11 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with robbery with threat of force, repeater. Preiss was previously convicted of possession of narcotics with intent to distribute in 2011, for which she was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours community service.

Justin J. Thielen, 24, was charged on Feb. 14 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Thielen was originally charged with being party to the crime of robbery, but those charges were dropped. 

According to the criminal complaint:

City of Oconomowoc Police was dispatched around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5 for a robbery in progress at Books & Company, 1039 E. Summit Ave.

The robber had fled in a brown Toyota Camry before police arrived, but employees managed to write down the vehicles license plate number.

Patricia Swift was working the register when a woman in a thick, gray hoodie sweat shirt, blue jeans and sunglasses entered the store. Swift told police the woman came up to the front desk and told the employees to open the register drawer and give her the money.
Swift asked her if she was serious and she allegedly said, “Yes, do it before anyone gets hurt,” the complaint reads.

Swift emptied the money into a plastic grocery bag the robber had and the woman quickly walked out the front door. She allegedly got into the vehicle with three men inside and drove off.

Police searched the license plate number and determined that the vehicle was registered to Ashippun resident Jeffrey Thielen, 24. Detectives contacted Jeffrey’s mother, Gloria Thielen, who told police that her son had been using the vehicle during the time of the robbery.

Detectives also spoke with Alexandra Reed, who said she wanted to give a statement regarding the robbery. She allegedly said her mother, Preiss, had committed the robbery, but had told her to lie to police about the incident.

Reed told police she was sitting at her grandparent’s house in Pewaukee waiting for Thielen, her boyfriend, to pick her up on Feb. 5. He arrived with Preiss and Preiss’ boyfriend Timothy Owen in the car.

Preiss’ allegedly asked Reed if they could use her vehicle to drive to West Allis, and when Reed asked why, Thielen said, “because your mom did something [expletive] stupid,” the complaint reads.

Preiss then allegedly told Reed she had committed the robbery, wearing thick clothing and covering her hair to hide her identity.

Preiss refused to give a statement regarding the incident, but her boyfriend Owen provided one. He said he had been in a relationship with Preiss for 17 years. He told police he did not know Preiss was allegedly going to commit the robbery.

He also told police that Theilen allegedly received approximately half of the money for driving Preiss to the store.

After the robbery, Owen said that Preiss, Reed, Thielen allegedly purchased some heroin and shot up in a McDonald’s parking lot.

If convicted, Preiss could face up to 19 years in prison, $50,000 in fines, or both.

Her next expected court date is Feb. 21.

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