MPD Tries New Tactics For Vehicle Thefts, Reckless Driving
MPD using bait cars to catch car thieves. State Patrol will provide assistance on Capitol and Fond du Lac.
The Milwaukee Police Department is launching three new traffic enforcement initiatives designed to reduce reckless driving and vehicle thefts. The department is adding patrols in partnership with an outside agency, deploying bait cars to catch vehicle thieves and restarting a sticker program to alert officers to vehicles that shouldn’t be on city streets overnight.
“Everybody needs to be part of the solution,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a press conference Thursday at the MPD administration building.
“We can help and we will. This is part of being a flexible, responsive agency sworn to protect the public,” said state patrol superintendent Tony Burrell. “The state patrol will help with traffic safety so that the Milwaukee Police Department can focus on community safety and other initiatives.”
Burrell said the initiative will target “strategic hot spots” where crashes more frequently occur. State patrol officers won’t be deployed every day, but in a data-driven manner.
“Understand if you get cited by a [state patrol officer], you get a citation that is higher than from the city,” said Milwaukee police chief Jeffrey Norman.
“This partnership began two weeks ago and will continue throughout the summer,” said Norman. The city has previously partnered with the state patrol on similar initiatives.
A “bait car” is being deployed by MPD to address the thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Two-thirds of the vehicles stolen in 2021 were made by either Kia or Hyundai. More than half of the thefts where an arrest was made involved people under the age of 18.
Many Kia and Hyundai have vulnerabilities that make them easier to steal.
Rear windows in the vehicles can be broken as they are not connected to the alarm system. More sophisticated techniques involve prying out the window. Once inside the vehicle, a panel can be removed and the vehicle started by using a USB cable or similarly-shaped object to turn over the ignition. Other thieves have used pliers. The thefts involve vehicles without an immobilizer in a chipped key (an immobilizer is found in push-button ignition setups common in new vehicles). Most of Kia and Hyundai’s vehicles made in the past decade have such vulnerabilities.
“We don’t reveal that type of operational [information],” said Norman in response to a question about when the bait cars are being used.
CAT Anti-Theft Program Returning
MPD is also working to bring back an old program.
The Combat Auto Theft or CAT program is simple in its nature. Vehicle owners request a special sticker, shaped like a police badge, and display it on the back of their vehicle. If an officer spots it between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., it serves as the probable cause for pulling the vehicle over.
The chief said individuals could visit any MPD station to claim a sticker and register for the program.
“All of these activities are for a safer community,” said Norman. “Things are working. They may not be as fast as we want them to be, but we’re seeing improvements.”
“I want to thank all of the participants who have stepped up in our efforts to make our streets safer in the city of Milwaukee,” said Johnson. “The department is willing to try new approaches and new techniques… and I applaud those efforts.”
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- AG Kaul, 21 Other States Demand Kia, Hyundai Address Thefts - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 20th, 2023
- Software Update Could End ‘The Kia Boyz’ - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2023
- Council Members Blast $500 Fix To Hyundai Theft Problem - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 3rd, 2022
- Milwaukee Eighth in Nation for Vehicle Thefts - Evan Casey - Sep 16th, 2022
- Kia, Hyundai Thefts Now National Problem - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 17th, 2022
- MPD Tries New Tactics For Vehicle Thefts, Reckless Driving - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 21st, 2022
- Interviewing The ‘Kia Boyz’ - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 7th, 2022
- City’s Auto Thefts Up 132% Last Year - Edgar Mendez - Mar 30th, 2022
Read more about Kia and Hyundai Theft Epidemic here