MILWAUKEE — Car theft has been a big issue we have been telling you about for years.
Milwaukee police shared the number of Kia and Hyundai thefts over the last year. You can see we hit a dip in crime, especially this spring.
In fact, the Milwaukee Police's Public Information Office reports a 17-percent decrease in stolen automobiles, compared to this time last year.
But police warn criminals are finding new ways to override steering wheel locks given to the owners of Kias and Hyundais.
Police believe there are at least three more things you can install to protect a vulnerable car that you may not have thought of.
We spoke to Luke Rapisarda who had his 2016 Kia Sorento stolen in Milwaukee. Eight days later, it was found totaled in Brookfield. The brunt of the damage was on the inside. To add insult to injury, the thief wrote on the driver's side door "Kia Boyz."
He adds, "On the console side of the front passenger seat somebody with a pen had tried to write 'Kia Girls.'"
We asked Sergeant Efrain Cornejo with the Milwaukee Police Department: Who are the Kia Boys?
He replied, "We have seen them engaged in reckless behavior, especially in groups, you know, the little cliques from about 12 years old to about mid-20s is usually our age range."
Anyone with a Kia from the years 2011 to 2021 or Hyundai from the years 2015 to 2021 is vulnerable.
There are ways to protect yourself beyond a wheel lock. Sergeant Cornejo showed us a photo of a wheel boot he spotted on a parked Kia Wednesday morning.
"So it goes on one of your vehicles almost like a clamp or a claw and it prevents the wheel from turning," he said.
He believes it might also be worth installing an ignition kill switch, adding, "That switch can be concealed where only the owner of the vehicle knows where it is."
Or a steel steering wheel collar that can stop a thief from ripping your column open. Any of those options can cost from $20 to more than $100.
Sergeant Cornejo says Milwaukee police spoke to Kia and Hyundai makers directly about how this issue is plaguing our city.
"They've been very receptive. They were not equipped with an engine immobilizer; my understanding from this conversation that we had with them was they were going to add engine immobilizers for all of their vehicles for the 2022 model," he said.
Milwaukee police also want to remind you they have bait cars out in our community to catch perpetrators by remotely stopping their vehicles. They also need your help. If you know someone who is taking part in this criminal activity, call Crimes Stoppers at (414) 224-8477.
There is also a program that allows car owners in the City of Milwaukee to register their vehicle with the Catch Auto Thieves (CAT) Program with Milwaukee Police. This allows officers to stop vehicles between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Once registered, you will be provided with a window sticker identifying your vehicle as a participating vehicle. Any officer observing your vehicle operating on the roadway between the specify hours is then authorized to stop it without further probable cause. Click here to learn more.