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Why is the Milwaukee Police Department handing out steering wheel locks to Kia and Hyundai owners? Car theft. The police say those two makes are seeing an uptick in thefts. Kia models from 2011 and up, and Hyundai models from 2015 and up are eligible. 

There is a design flaw in these vehicles that makes it easier to steal

youth arrested for car theft
Adams County Sheriffs Deputy arresting a suspect for attempted car theft of a truck | Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Officials say the reason is twofold. First, youth are not in school due to the pandemic, so they have a lot of idle time. And the second reason is that there is a design flaw in these vehicles and also Hondas according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

So far in 2021, there have been over 1,500 stolen cars reported in Milwaukee. That is almost a 140% increase compared to 2020. But it is not just isolated to Milwaukee. 

In Chicago, it has become a big enough problem that a State Representative has chosen a unique way to combat it. Representative Marcus Evans introduced a bill barring any video game that involves carjackings. In January alone there were over 200 carjackings in Chicago. Also in Chicago, there are over 30 guards that have been hired to patrol various gas stations in the evening the city calls “Operation Safe Pump.” 

In Washington, DC, carjackings were up over 140% in 2020

Car theft in progress
A man attempting to steal car | ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images

In Washington, DC, carjackings were up over 140% in 2020. Now the city has formed a task force to try and come up with solutions to the ever-growing problem. It is also seeing both Kia and Hyundais being the more popular target.

Thieves break the back window of Kias and Hyundais to gain entry. Then they break the column locks and drive off. Sometimes these stolen vehicles are used to commit other crimes, or they end up in dangerous chases pursued by the police. 

Milwaukee Police Captain Eric Pfeiffer told the Sentinel, “We are seeing kids as young as 12 years old.” Some residents are upset over the thieves’ not being held but instead, they’re let go. This in spite of there being damaged property, injured pedestrians, or a record of previous car theft.

Detroit used to be the poster child for theft but is surpassed by Milwaukee

The Club
A man in Los Angeles locks “The Club” on his steering wheel to prevent car theft | Photo by David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

Detroit used to be the poster child for car theft. But this year it has been surpassed by Milwaukee. For January and February combined Detroit saw under 600 vehicles stolen. It sees 8.6 vehicles stolen every day. 

By contrast, Milwaukee is seeing 23.5 cars stolen each day. So Milwaukee in 2021 is having a definite spike in auto theft. And most theft experts say that the steering wheel locks like The Club are not much of a deterrent. That’s because thieves are using bolt cutters to cut through steering wheels to remove the locks. 

It is also suggested that if you have your car stolen you don’t post about it on social media sites like Facebook. That’s because posters get contacted by people offering to help find the stolen car for a fee. They ask that payment be sent through methods like CashApp where it is impossible to trace where the money went.