Jeramey Jannene

Donovan Plans Car Theft “Strike Force”

Plan relies on private support of as much as $1.5 million to install high-tech solution in vulnerable autos.

By - Mar 21st, 2022 05:43 pm
Robert Donovan unveils vehicle theft strike force at press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Robert Donovan unveils vehicle theft strike force at press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayoral candidate Robert Donovan has a multi-pronged plan to combat what he says is a worst-in-the-nation vehicle theft epidemic.

“Quite frankly, I cannot believe how much our city has deteriorated in just the last two years,” said Donovan at a press conference Monday afternoon outside the Milwaukee Police Department‘s District Six station. “We have more stolen vehicles than Chicago and they are five times our size.”

The city set a record of motor vehicle thefts in 2021, driven by a confluence of factors including a vulnerability to theft discovered in certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles, the wide distribution of how-to information on stealing these vehicles and the glamorization of driving recklessly on social media. Most of those arrested to date have been minors.

Donovan said his plan involves prevention, apprehension, prosecution and education.

“As mayor, I would create a strikeforce that takes this issue seriously,” said the former alderman. It would be made up of a mix of current and retired officers, as well as officers from surrounding communities. He said financing the effort would not be an issue and suggested the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding is one option. The task force would expedite investigations, particularly in situations where an individual knows where their vehicle went, but the police don’t have the resources to immediately respond.

He would also seek to establish a $7,000-per-instance restitution penalty for those caught stealing vehicles in addition to existing penalties. “I would insist our district attorneys and our judges hold criminals appropriately accountable, juveniles and adults alike,” said Donovan. “I would insist they be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

He also proposed a public relations strategy involving local celebrities, including athletes, branding vehicle theft as unacceptable.

“We have an obligation to address this problem,” said Donovan.

A High Tech Solution?

Accompanying Donovan’s strike force plan is a new, Milwaukee-made product that would be installed in every vulnerable vehicle at no charge.

“We live in a technologically advanced world. There are wonders that exist within our community that we as a society need to capitalize on to address this out-of-control, stolen vehicle problem,” said the former alderman.

Milwaukee-based entrepreneur Jon Goldoff developed a Bluetooth-connected killswitch, known as a NoGo, that can be installed in vehicles.

A smartphone application turns the device on or off. Trying to start a vehicle with the device in the off position makes it appear the vehicle is broken as the engine will turn over, but not start.

“We can put this in any vehicle,” said Goldoff. He designed the tool, which requires an Android smartphone, after his own vehicle was stolen. “The NoGo is basically a second key that is your phone.” The cost for equipment and installation in an auto is $150.

The Milwaukee Police Department, in a 2021 Common Council briefing, said it wasn’t sure how many vulnerable Kia and Hyundai vehicles were on the road, but it could be more than 10,000. At $150 each, that would cost $1.5 million.

“The private sector would help for this to offset the cost to our citizens,” said Donovan. He said in three phone calls he had raised $20,000 in pledges and would have no problem getting more if elected mayor.

Goldoff, head of Jon E. Tech, said it wouldn’t prevent someone from breaking into your vehicle, but it would save the annoyance of not knowing where your car went and the damage that can come during joyriding. Widely deployed, the NoGo could discourage the break-ins altogether, he said, noting it has been installed in approximately 30 vehicles to date.

Is Goldoff endorsing Donovan for mayor? When asked Goldoff said he was a private business owner trying to solve a problem.

Individuals with an affected Kia or Hyundai can pick up a free steering wheel lock today from any MPD station. The car manufacturers are paying for the locks, to prevent thefts, but images have circulated online of vehicles still being stolen with wheel locks.

Donovan’s opponent, Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson, unveiled a reckless driving plan in December and a public safety plan in January.


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More about the 2022 Mayoral Race

Read more about 2022 Mayoral Race here

More about the Kia and Hyundai Theft Epidemic

Read more about Kia and Hyundai Theft Epidemic here

3 thoughts on “Donovan Plans Car Theft “Strike Force””

  1. Ryan Cotic says:

    He already seems to have better ideas than Barrett did. We need to move in a new direction and actually take crime serious.

  2. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Donavan is the Trump candidate carpet bagger who just bought a place in MKE to run for governor.

    The great white hope. He’s pathetic.

  3. Certainly, a terrible rash of car thefts is awful, and a solid approach to ending these is very laudable. However, Mr. Donovan should be aware that this technology has been around for a while. See “Remote Vehicle Shutdown Auto Technology,” by Eliza Lobo, Saturday 02 May 2015, Automobile Technology, Many cars already have it. This could be expanded to cars that do not have it, and such an expansion would be a good goal, but as part of a comprehensive approach.

    However, what is concerning is that Mr. Donovan, with much suburban support, is setting up the model of a “strike force” to act in Milwaukee based on his supporters’ viewpoints. I am afraid these “strike forces” will zero in on Milwaukee citizens for various reasons.

    I agree with Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s plans to address reckless driving and public safety, and I would be confident that current technological approaches can also be part of the solution.

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