Kia, Hyundai car thefts spike in Milwaukee: 'Epidemic'

Milwaukee police have seen a huge spike in car thefts in 2021 -- a greater than 100% increase over last year.

Police said they have a good idea why thefts have spiked, and it has everything to do with the type of car you drive -- issuing another alert to owners of newer model Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

"It is pretty much an epidemic of motor vehicle theft," said Capt. David Salazar with the Milwaukee Police Department. "We’re up about 160% in stolen vehicles from last year."

According to MPD, since Jan. 1 there have been 2,949 vehicle thefts in the city. Of those, 973 were Kia and 947 were Hyundai vehicles. This time last year, there were 1,201 thefts -- 34 Kia and 58 Hyundai.

"When it comes to those two vehicles. If we didn’t have that occurring, we would actually be down in motor vehicle thefts," Salazar said.

Milwaukee police did not comment on what exactly the feature is that makes it easy to steal, as to not publicize the problem. However, they said there is a way owners can protect themselves from theft.

"From our arrests and interrogations of suspects, for these particular crimes, they’ve told us that when they see an anti-theft device such as a club or a collar lock on the vehicle, they just go on to the next vehicle," said Salazar. "That’s why we are partnering with people to actually obtain these devices and give them out to victims, and that is why we are urging people who own that vehicle to invest in it."

Police are also urging the automakers to recall the brands they save have been causing the trouble.

"We’re constantly making that effort to try to get them to do that. At this point, they have chosen not to for whatever reason," Salazar said.

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According to MPD, the rise in thefts correlates with increased crimes such as reckless driving, which have plagued the city. They said they are working to secure funding and donations to supply anti-theft devices to residents.

FOX6 News reached out to both Kia and Hyundai's U.S. office about these concerns but has not heard back.

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