MILWAUKEE — A pair of Milwaukee city council members are blaming Kia and Hyundai for a nearly 200% increase in stolen cars this year.
Alderman Khalif Rainey and Alderwoman Milele Coggs on Wednesday wrote letters to both car companies, saying their cars are too easy to steal.
“KIA and Hyundai are directly responsible, in my view, for the drain on police and other city resources that have been sadly directed to deal with the rash of vehicle thefts and the havoc those thefts have brought to our city,” Rainey said. “It’s time for these companies to fix the problem they created.”
Rainey and Coggs say in their letter that thieves can steal a Kia or Hyundai with something as simple as a USB cord. Milwaukee Police have said neither car requires the key fob to be driven.
Milwaukee Police say car thefts in the city are up 189% over last year at this time. Rainey told Kia and Hyundai that their cars make up two-thirds of all stolen cars in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Police say a 16-year-old who was driving a stolen Kia SUV crashed head-on into a car Tuesday night, killing himself and sending five people to the hospital.
Alderwoman Coggs blames the carmakers.
“Social media videos exposing car thieves or those who hunt them make what our city is going through seem unreal. KIA and Hyundai owners have been under siege, and too many of our neighborhoods, streets and sidewalks have been filled with the reckless behavior of those driving these stolen vehicles,” Coggs said.
Both Kia and Hyundai released statements saying they are looking into the rash of thefts.
“Kia is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts in some Kia vehicles in Milwaukee. We are concluding our investigation into the issue,” James Bell, the head of U.S. public relations for Kia said in a statement. “All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”
Hyundai’s Michael Stewart said pretty much the same thing.
“Hyundai Motor America is aware of a recent rise in thefts of some Hyundai vehicles in Milwaukee,” Stewart said in his statement. “We are close to finalizing our investigation and will continue to work with local law enforcement on how to best address the issue.”
Coggs said the companies need to do more than just “investigate.”
“As the manufacturers of these vehicles they owe it to their customers to fix the problems that help make these brands of vehicles easier to steal,” she said.