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Milwaukee woman's Kia stolen for the third time, even after anti-theft upgrade

Milwaukee Police say at least 64 Kias have been stolen YTD citywide.
Kia stolen 3 times
Posted at 10:36 AM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 11:36:33-05

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee woman says her Kia has been stolen not once, not twice, but three times, even after she installed the free security upgrade and took other precautions to try to avoid being victimized.

"I didn't even know it was a thing until it was stolen the first time and after it was stolen for the first time I learned about Kia boys," said Trisha Nguyen. When Milwaukee Police found her 2014 Kia Optima after it was stolen Tuesday, they discovered damage inside and out.

Nguyen is even more frustrated this time because she said she has installed the anti-theft software upgrade that Kia said would prevent this crime from happening.

"I was initially told that the car could only start with a key ignition but that's not the case because they broke the steering column again with a USB port," said Nguyen.

In October, a project manager for Kia's Anti-Theft Program explained how the upgrade is supposed to work.

"This software update makes it so even if they try to plug that USB port and it's not going to disable the ignition immobilizer, it's going to keep that intact and it is going to sound the factory alarm," said Emily Falecki, Project Manager with Kia's Anti-Theft Program.

On Friday, Falecki told reporter Ryan Jenkins by phone that part of this upgrade requires Kia owners to lock their cars with a key fob. If the vehicle isn't locked with the key fob, the upgrade doesn't work.

"At this point, I don't want to invest in Kia or Hyundai at the moment. I'm looking for a new car," said Nguyen.

She's another victim of a crime trend we've been reporting on for several years. On Friday, Milwaukee Police told me there were 308 vehicle thefts so far in 2024. 64 of them have been Kia's. Those numbers are down from this time a year ago when there were 495 vehicle thefts year-to-date with 159 of them being Kia's.

"Honestly, it happens so often that I think the Milwaukee Police Department is just so used to the reports at this point," said Nguyen.

According to Milwaukee's City Attorney, the lawsuit that the city filed against Kia is still out there and is part of what could be a lengthy legal process. He had no new updates to report on Friday.