MILWAUKEE — For Carol Mcfarlane, the theft of her car meant so much more than paying an insurance deductible.
"She was Gertie [Kia Soul] and she was my pride and joy, and she's not anymore because of the Kia Boys or whoever," said McFarlane.
McFarlane is among Milwaukee's nearly 4,000 victims of car theft this year, many at the hands of the so-called Kia Boys.
They're mostly teens and underage boys who steal Hyundais and Kias for joy rides. They often crash the cars or abandon them after they run out of gas.
Compared to this point in 2021, thefts are down a bit. But they've more than doubled since 2020, according to police data.
"Now in my head, I'm thinking, my car Gertie, my baby, is out there maybe jumping a curb and hitting somebody, hitting an innocent person," said McFarlane.
McFarlane said Gertie was stolen from the parking garage at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in early June.
Potawatomi told TMJ4 News this in a statement: "
"Potawatomi Hotel & Casino prioritizes keeping its guests safe and their property secure while visiting. The casino employs surveillance both inside and outside of the building, including the parking structure. With car thefts becoming more of an issue in the area, our security team is increasing mobile unit patrols in the parking structure. We also work closely with law enforcement to aid in the investigation when situations like this do occur.”
After a few days, police found Gertie abandoned and battered.
"I don't want her back and if they do fix her and make me take her back, how safe would you feel after watching this video of a car hopping in a yard?" said McFarlane.
A video of McFarlane's Kia Soul and several other stolen cars driving recklessly appeared on TikTok more than a week ago.
After it was abandoned and towed, the car sat for days on a city lot without a tarp, according to McFarlane. The car has two broken windows.
"She's going to have flood damage and have to be reported as stolen. How with a conscience could I sell that car to anybody knowing what has been done to her?" she said.
So far, McFarlane is out several thousand dollars for insurance deductibles and items stolen from the car.
She's connected with other victims online on Facebook.
"It's heartbreaking to hear these stories of how much money they're losing because of these idiots," she said.
McFarlane hopes that by sharing her story, the city may take more action to prevent others from losing money and, in her case, a friend.
"Stop them. Stop them," she said.