Automobile thieves focusing on Kia and Hyundai automobiles have put the town of Milwaukee, Wis., on alert, prompting the police division, rental automotive firms and even an area brewery to warn drivers that they could be prone.

Sgt. Efrain Cornejo says the Milwaukee Police Division actually began to note a pattern in November 2020 the place automotive thieves would break a window and have the ability to drive off inside minutes.

“Throughout that point we truly made contact with the producers and what we have been capable of finding out by way of them is that the automobiles that have been being affected have been automobiles that weren’t outfitted with engine immobilizers,” Cornejo mentioned.

Engine immobilizers use digital alerts to stop automobiles from being hot-wired. Most automobiles bought within the final 20 years have them. However many Kias and Hyundais produced earlier than mid-2021 do not, and thieves in Milwaukee have taken discover.

Thefts of Kias and Hyundais actually exploded in 2021. That yr MPD noticed 3,557 Kias and three,406 Hyundais stolen in comparison with 469 Kias and 426 Hyundais in 2020.

The Milwaukee-Waukesha space was within the high 10 cities within the U.S. for per capita automotive thefts in 2021. To try to deter extra thefts, MPD partnered with automotive producers, native companies and neighborhood organizations to go out steering wheel locks just like the Membership to assist deter criminals.

Companies are getting the phrase out in Milwaukee

Some companies, like Lakefront Brewery, are attempting to get the phrase out to prospects earlier than they sit down for a drink. The brewery positioned within the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood of the town has an indication out entrance that claims “NOTICE: Please point out in the event you drive a KIA or HYUNDAI automobile to the Host.”

Dylan Mazurkiewicz of Lakefront Brewery says they put out the signal to “notify our patrons when a pair [thefts] occurred in our space and other people have been calling us or coming in fairly upset.”

“It sucks. It is traumatic for a few of these folks. Any person even had a bunch of baggage of their automotive and … they’re on their option to the airport,” he mentioned. “It appeared like worst-case situations.”

Mazurkiewicz mentioned that along with telling folks concerning the state of affairs and how briskly the automobiles may be stolen, the brewery additionally does its finest to have them park their automobiles in areas the place there are cameras, shut the constructing or close to the patio the place there are extra folks round. The brewery additionally lends out steering wheel locks.

Even automotive rental firms are attempting to make extra drivers conscious by placing tags on the important thing rings telling drivers to not park in Milwaukee County. A put up on Reddit set off a flurry of feedback, together with some from those that have had their automobiles stolen or know somebody who has.

“Good friend had her automotive stolen. Insurance coverage received her a rental whereas she waited for the brand new automotive to return in to the supplier. Rental received stolen. Then her new automotive received stolen off the lot earlier than she was in a position to choose it up,” person TheCookie_Momster wrote.

Cornejo mentioned that year-to-date, the Milwaukee Police Division has seen a 19% lower in thefts of Kia and Hyundai automobiles from the excessive numbers it noticed final yr.

Total, there are a selection of precautions folks can take to assist stop automotive theft. Steering wheel locks are one, however Cornejo says that tire locks — or boots — are additionally changing into extra frequent.

Investing in a kill swap on your automotive may may additionally be good. And because the climate will get colder, Cornejo recommends not leaving your automotive unattended whereas it is heating up.

As for Hyundai, a bigger repair seems to be on the horizon. The corporate informed NPR that although immobilizers grew to become commonplace on automobiles produced after Nov. 1, 2021, it plans to promote a safety package “that targets the tactic of entry thieves are utilizing to entry these automobiles” beginning Oct. 1.

Kia tells NPR it plans to proceed partnerships with native regulation enforcement at hand out steering wheel locks in a number of cities.

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