Milwaukee Common Council Committee discusses lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia for theft

By Frank Healy

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MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — Twenty-eight stolen cars a day. That statistic was at the center of the issue that the Milwaukee Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislative Committee took up on Monday — possible lawsuits over the rampant theft of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

It comes after a private lawsuit was launched regarding the matter.

“We are forced to rely on anecdotes and rumors coming out of the base, which show us that this is a great revolving door. People get arrested, they go in the front door and out the back door, and within 24 hours they steal another car,” 4th District Alderman Robert Bauman said.

He said it seemed difficult to establish the facts about the theft from Kia and Hyundai during testimony from the city attorney’s office on Monday.

Tenth District Alderman Michael Murphy said the issue was more than just a rumour.

“Very few cases are ultimately prosecuted for stolen vehicles,” Ald said. Murphy.

He said that 50% of these offenders are under the age of 16.

Aldus. Murphy suggested considering inviting the head of the juvenile court, Judge Laura Crivello, as well as the district attorney to talk about the issues they are facing with the situation.

One of these problems Ald. Murphy identified the fact that they are children, and often not the driver.

“Individuals who are caught in the car, who are not driving the vehicle, are usually released within hours to their guardian,” Ald said. Murphy.

He said sometimes they get caught four or even five times.

To change that, Ald. Murphy thinks that some kind of detention center for these young people could be created using ARPA funds, which has been tried in Portland.

“Instead of just releasing them immediately, they would be referred to that location and then the appropriate social services would intervene to see why that individual is involved,” Ald said. Murphy.

Thirteenth District Alderman Sean Siker said we need to determine if more education is needed or if there really is no consequence.

“If that’s the case, that seems like the obvious thing staring me in the face,” Ald said. Spiker.

The council asked the city attorney whether other cities had faced similar difficulties and, if so, whether they had filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia.

“I wonder if other municipalities have become aware as municipalities, as opposed to private entities, of any litigation,” Ald said. Spiker.

While city prosecutors said Denver has experienced similar issues, but not on the level of what’s happening here in Milwaukee, they haven’t filed any lawsuits against Hyundai or Kia.

Officials from the city attorney’s office said the best opportunity to learn of a cause of action is based on public nuisance laws.

It was then that the council convened in private session to discuss the matter further, although he made it clear he was not taking any legal action at this time.

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