Please Don’t Buy a Kia or Hyundai in Milwaukee

Really, if you’re thinking about buying a Kia or Hyundai, and you live in Milwaukee, don’t. And if you own one, park it in a garage or get a tracking system installed. Quickly. Car theft in Milwaukee is targeting the sister cars. What’s going on?

How many Kia and Hyundai vehicles are stolen?

car theft
Police car theft arrest | Getty

In fact, about 70 percent of all car thefts in Milwaukee are either Kias or Hyundais. And the numbers are on the rise. Over 20 of one or the other brand is stolen every day according to police records obtained by WTMJ4 News. That’s over 60 a month.

Milwaukee police are doing their part to quell the onslaught. They are giving away free steering wheel locks, but the numbers haven’t dropped. Through September, 5,362 Kia and Hyundai vehicles have gone missing. 

Of 7,000 thefts this year, 5,362 were Hyundai or Kia vehicles

car theft
Milwaukee car theft investigation | Getty

That’s out of 7,000 auto thefts in 2021. General Motors vehicles came in number three with 566 stolen. Kia and Hyundai vehicles stolen in 2020 amounted to only 188 taken. So the numbers have jumped alarmingly from 188 to 5,362. 

Several Kia/Hyundai owners have had their cars stolen more than once. WISN 12 News says one owner had only gotten his car back the previous day when it was stolen a second time. So, what happens to all of these cars? 

Some of the stolen cars are used in other vehicle thefts. Joyrides are another reason. That’s what one 12-year old told police after being arrested for stealing a Hyundai. Some of these joyrides or other antics can be rough on the cars. To get them back into shape, some found and returned vehicles cost the owners over $10,000. 

How is the theft prevention system in Hyundai and Kia vehicles?

Police car theft
Police in a car theft pursuit | Getty

Why is it so easy to steal Hyundais and Kias? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that according to police, theft prevention is almost non-existent. Thieves first break in through windows. Then, they use screwdrivers and jam them into the steering columns. 

Apparently, there is a port for a USB cable in the column to start the cars. By jamming a screwdriver into the port accomplishes the same thing. Once stabbed into the port, the car starts right up. 

Owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers

car theft
Milwaukee car theft investigation | Getty

Kia and Hyundai owners have come together to file a class-action lawsuit against the automakers. It alleges that the cars have poorly-designed security safeguards. For their part, Kia and Hyundai say immobilizers will come standard on 2022 models. In the meantime, they’re working with police to help fend off more thefts. 

The question we pose is if Milwaukee is the only place this is happening? If so, then why not Cleveland, or Los Angeles, or Miami? What’s the secret sauce in Milwaukee the car thieves are drinking? 

RELATED: Consumer Reports’ Advice on Preventing Car Theft