Car thieves in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are exploiting what police are calling a security flaw to steal nearly 2,000 Hyundais and Kias in this year alone. The thefts are so out of control that police are offering free steering wheel locks to curb the spree.
This is bad news for anyone already parking their Kia outside because it may burst into flames. Car theft in the city is on alert this year as by May 6, police have received over 3,100 reports of vehicle theft, reports Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s an increase of 171 percent, and we’re not even halfway through the year.
It’s even worse for Kia and Hyundai owners, reports Fox 6 Milwaukee:
According to MPD, there have been 2,949 vehicle thefts in the city as of April 30. Of those, 973 were Kia and 947 were Hyundai vehicles. This time last year, there were 1,201 thefts — 34 Kia and 58 Hyundai.
It’s also staggering that over 151 cars were stolen in the city in only the span between April 30 and May 6.
Police say that Kias 2011 and newer and Hyundais 2015 and newer are being targeted. Why are thieves suddenly targeting these cars? According to TMJ4 Milwaukee, they’re easy to steal. The thieves are breaking back windows and entering without opening any doors. Doing it this way prevents the factory alarm from sounding.
From there, the criminals are able to start and drive the cars without key fobs being present. These stolen cars are then used to commit other crimes, including other car thefts.
Even sadder is that many of the thieves are only teenagers, some as young as 12. Local repair shops are noticing the same cars getting stolen multiple times and damages to the vehicles in excess of $10,000. These shops say the cars were started using a USB port or screwdriver.
To combat what police say is a security flaw in these cars, owners of Kias and Hyundais of the aforementioned model years can contact any Milwaukee Police Department district to receive a steering wheel lock for free. Repair shops also recommend picking up a steering wheel lock. Looks like the old-school way of preventing a theft is still one of the best.