Milwaukee stolen vehicle crimes double, half the arrests kids 16 and under
MILWAUKEE - Nearly 10,000 vehicles have been stolen or driven by someone behind the wheel who shouldn't be in 2021 alone in Milwaukee, and according to police, kids 16 and younger account for half of the arrests made.
Police say there has been a decline over the last three months but not enough to put a dent in the auto theft data.
The numbers are staggering. Hyundai and Kia thefts are driving those numbers city-wide. For every three vehicles stolen, one is likely a Hyundai and the other a Kia.
One woman FOX6 News spoke with named Jennifer has joined the unfortunate ranks of the thousands of victims.
"I should have listened to my gut feeling," she said. "I shouldn’t have gone."
Jennifer came to the Lower East Side with her brand-new Kia SUV, parking on East Kenilworth to meet a friend.
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"I jokingly said, ‘Can you see if my car is still there?’ and he was like, ‘Oh no, it’s gone,'" said Jennifer. "Then he looked at me and was like, ‘No, seriously, did you park there?’"
The vehicle, with two payments down and a number left to go, had vanished.
"I was shocked," said Jennifer. "I think I’m still kind of in shock."
Jennifer's Kia SUV has been added to the list of 9,611 vehicles stolen or operated without consent in the city through November, compared to 4,524 in 2020.
"Kia and Hyundai are really driving our auto theft numbers city-wide," said Nick DeSiato, MPD.
"It is a pretty terrible statistic on the city’s face that we have these numbers," said Alderman Michael Murphy.
The issue came up at a recent city Judiciary & Legislative Committee meeting as Common Council members have taken issue with the ease at which Kias and Hyundais are stolen. According to Milwaukee police, the makes account for 67%of the brands stolen in 2021. Of the 1,061 arrests made this year, half are kids 16 and under; some viewing it as a game and posting videos to social media.
"I’ve seen the videos, and all I can think of is, there is literally a child – teenager – out joyriding my car that I worked so hard for and they have no care of what the other person is going through right now," said Jennifer.
If you are a Kia or Hyundai owner, the two auto manufacturers have provided steering wheel locks that can be picked up for free at your nearby police district. As for legal options, the Office of the City Attorney is mulling one possible avenue of suing the carmakers based on public nuisance.