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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MKE community reflects on recent motor vehicle thefts

Milwaukee Police Department reported a 34% decrease in car thefts in 2023 compared to 2022, but some Marquette students and Milwaukee residents are still dissatisfied with the security of their vehicles.

Assistant Marquette University Police Department Chief, Jeff Kranz said when someone calls MUPD about a stolen car, they can get the word out to not only the city of Milwaukee but also the rest of the country where they report it in their crime databases. This way, he said other jurisdictions can run the plates quickly and identify if it’s a stolen vehicle.

Carrie Knapp is a Milwaukee resident whose daughter’s Kia was stolen from the Versiti Blood Center parking lot on Marquette’s campus. After the car was stolen, they reported the incident to MUPD.

“Five days later, when the car finally ran out of gas, they found it in the Whole Foods parking lot by St. Mary’s Hospital with the steering wheel column damaged. It makes you mad because you work hard for the things that you do have, and it’s very upsetting to just have that taken from you,” Knapp said. 

Knapp said she and her daughter were both “distraught” over the situation, especially since Knapp also had her Kia broken into twice just outside her home in Milwaukee.

“Twice my steering column was stripped and that’s $1,000 every time you have to take it in. It’s very frustrating. They do it because they know they can get away with it, and they know there won’t be a lot of consequences,” Knapp said. 

Milwaukee made an announcement March 22 that they’ve filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, following similar lawsuits filed by other cities such as Cleveland and San Diego. Knapp said she doesn’t see how this will help decrease the number of car thefts.

“I think what it boils down to is making the penalties tougher. I think the police are overwhelmed and they do the best they can, but they can only do so much. It comes down to the people who are not making these charges stick. They get arrested for stealing a car and then they get out the next day and they’re doing the same thing again,” Knapp said. 

Governor Tony Evers signed a Bill this Monday with the goal to reduce reckless driving for people with multiple reckless driving offenses by impounding their vehicles.

Stealing a Vehicle in the state of Wisconsin is considered a Class I felony which can include up to 3.5 years in prison and possible fines up to $10,000.

Kranz said that MUPD is seeing similar trends on campus to what is happening in the larger Milwaukee area. He said they saw a spike in thefts last year, but this year thefts are decreasing.

“For a lot of people that car represents their livelihood, it gets them to work, it helps them pick up their kids from school. It’s essential for survival to have that vehicle, and to have that taken away from you, it’s crippling for some people,” Kranz said.

Kelly Ball, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said her Hyundai Elantra got broken into inside the Marquette parking structure on 16th Street Feb 13.

“I got a call from MUPD about an hour or two after it was broken into because someone reported seeing the window shattered and the glass that was everywhere. He [an MUPD officer] took some pictures for evidence and told me they would check the surveillance footage, but I never heard back from them if they identified the people that tried to steal my car so I could possibly file a charge against them,” Ball said.

Marquette has a daily crime and fire log that is posted on the MUPD website and they have cameras on each floor of the Marquette owned parking garages.

Ball said the MUPD officer told her that they tried to steal the car, but they must have been scared off. She said that there was $2,200 in damage.

Ball said Marquette sent out an email at the beginning of the semester to let students know that they were handing out wheel locks for free if students have a Hyundai or Kia, but Ball said she thought since her car was in a Marquette-owned parking garage it would be safe.

Kranz said he urges students to make sure their cars are locked and valuables are kept out of sight. He also recommends students use a steering wheel lock. He said MUPD is introducing more technology to hopefully remedy this problem on campus.

“When we are seeing a cluster of incidents like this occur, after the safety task force, we got two mobile cameras. We’re able to quickly react to an area on campus where maybe we’ve noticed a couple things happen and we can get a camera there. This hopefully will let criminals know that MUPD is watching,” Kranz said. 

This story was written by Sophia Tiedge. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Sophia Tiedge, Executive News Editor
Sophia is a sophomore from Arlington Heights, IL studying journalism. This year she will serving as the Executive News Editor after spending last year as a news reporter. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, working out and going to new places with her friends. This year Sophia is looking forward to collaborating with others and learning more about what happens on campus.

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