CBS 58 Special Report: Milwaukee sees spike in car thefts; here are ways to protect yourself
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It's a warning to all Kia and Hyundai owners. Car theft in Milwaukee has been a hot topic since late last year.
"It seems like with the volume of cars being stolen at this point, it's just really hard to get them back to us," Taylor Browne said.
Taylor Browne is among those victims. Browne's 2021 Kia Sportage was stolen in June. As it turns out, thieves are targeting certain models -- in particular, Kias and Hyundais.
"They're a quick fix and go," Randy Torgrud said. He is the owner of Alarmtronix in West Allis.
Milwaukee police are now trying to warn owners.
"Through our investigations, we've noticed that they were able to break the steering wheel column and start the vehicle easily without any keys," Milwaukee Police Sergeant Efrain Cornejo said.
However, there are ways to protect yourself. CBS 58's Winnie Dortch stopped at Alarmtronix to learn what drivers could do to decrease their chances of falling victim.
"The alarm business has really gone ahead," Torgrud said.
Torgrud says people should consider an alarm.
"Alarm system keeps them away from the vehicle so the noise, you generally don't see anybody there," Torgrud said.
"We can make it for more sensitivity or less, but in all reality if they come with the brick then it's going to activate. So if they go ahead and hit a brick through it and that pretty much scares the thief away right. In most cases yes, you don't usually see them around waiting for you," Torgrud said.
You can also invest in a kill system, a thief could still break into your car but he can't pull off.
"The kill system basically makes it so when they lock their car, they're going to get a flashing light and without that key that they lock it with, it's dead. So they come and break it, hit it, get into, they can't steal it," Torgrud said. "Keeps it from starting, so they even have a key for the vehicle, they're going to get in and basically nothing, the phone let me know -- this lets me know, so when they come and shut off the system, they can come right back and start the vehicle up."
Hyundai and Kia are now providing steering wheel locks for Milwaukee police to distribute to owners of specific vehicle models. These are models that require a physical style key and don't have an engine immobilizer.
"You want to put these hooks in and engage it around the steering wheel and then you want to open it all the way up, put it on an angle. You see the way it kind of hits the top, then you want to lock it," Sergeant Conejo said.
While these are helpful tactics to scare the crooks away, Milwaukee police are still urging people to park their cars in a spot where they can see it at all times.
"If you're able to enclose your vehicle in a garage, do that," Cornejo said. "This is not a foolproof vehicle theft device, however it is a deterrent and it's an extra layer of protection."
It's an extra layer of protection that could possibly save time, money and your car.