MILWAUKEE — The growing trend of stealing Hyundais and Kias is robbing some people of more than their vehicles in Milwaukee.
One victim, who asked that we conceal her identity, is rethinking how she gets to work.
"I'm scared to walk from that parking structure, and especially after leaving work. I am very nervous. I'm scared. What else is going to happen?"
Last month, someone stole her black Hyundai Elantra from a parking garage downtown.
After nearly a week missing and two weeks in a city impound, she got to see the car for the first time on Friday at a repair shop.
"There was drugs in it," she said. "They took everything out of my trunk."
It appears to be another hit by the Kia Boys — teens who take advantage of a design flaw to steal Hyundais and Kias for joy rides.
They smashed a rear window to gain access and then ripped apart the steering column. They often use a USB cable to manipulate a mechanism that starts the car.
The floor and seats were littered with cigar wrappers, ash and a handful of lighters.
Auto thefts in Milwaukee through mid-June are down a bit from 4,398 in 2021 to 3,992 this year.
But thefts have more than doubled from mid-June in 2020 at 1,501.
The woman we met said she parked her car for three years in a garage downtown near her office.
She said it took a ticket or pass to get in and out, and she'd like to know how the thief got the car out of the garage.
Police, according to the victim, are looking into that as well as surveillance footage.
"I have to say, the officer that helped me was wonderful," she said. "He was very caring and very good to me."
She expects she'll be out up to $1,000 in insurance payments and to replace missing items, including a Nintendo Wii.
"Do something," she said, calling on the city. "Enough is enough."
She's unsure if she'll keep the Hyundai once it's repaired.
"The officer said, yeah, it could happen again. I don't know, get rid of it, trade it in. Put extra protection on it. But I don't want it to happen again," she said.