Car theft epidemic grows in Milwaukee as folks leave vehicles unattended while warming them

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MILWAUKEE -- We're only 13 days into 2016, and already, there have been a number of car thefts in Milwaukee. Police say the majority of these thefts have occurred when folks have left their vehicles unattended while they warm them up. In fact, Milwaukee police say the number of vehicles stolen with their keys inside is more than double what it was at this time last year.

It takes just seconds for a thief to steal your vehicle.


Police say your providing car thieves with an opportunity -- an invitation even, when you leave your vehicle unattended and running in an effort to warm it up.

"It only takes seconds for a thief to get in your car and drive away," Heather Wurth, captain with the Milwaukee Police Department said.

"We just had our van stolen this past summer," Lilia Larriuz said.

Larriuz says her van was locked -- but yet it was gone in the blink of an eye.

"When I opened the door, our van was out there. Five minutes later, our guest left, and the van wasn`t there anymore -- so they're pretty quick," Larriuz said.

It is now winter, and Larriuz says the problem continues. A vehicle was recently stolen from her neighborhood near 33rd and Mitchell -- and police say its owner left the vehicle running for just a moment while he threw out some trash.

Heather Wurth, captain with the Milwaukee Police Department

Heather Wurth, captain with the Milwaukee Police Department

"The numbers that we`ve seen, at least for this year alone -- and it's only the 13th day of January -- we`ve seen nearly double in just this two-week time period from the same time period last year," Wurth said.

Wurth says these thefts are not just happening in residential areas.

"People are leaving their cars running when they run into corner stores or coffee shops or the gas stations -- those types of things," Wurth said.


Wurth says while the cold may be tempting people to leave their vehicles running for a bit before hitting the road, it can also make an arrest in the case of a theft more difficult.

"The level of concealment that some of the thieves are having -- hats, masks, gloves, those types of things, which makes it even doubly hard for us to try to identify some of these suspects," Wurth said. "A cold car is better than no car Vehicleat all."


In Milwaukee, we've seen stolen vehicles being used in other crimes (for example, rolling drug houses, where drug dealers use stolen vehicles to deliver drugs to their customers) -- so that's something else for drivers to keep in mind.


    • molon labe

      Lol, I did this once. Kids left it over on 34th. I was lucky. Here’s how to do it. Have (1) look out, to watch the owner run out to car and start it and run inside. (1) hollars at (2), who is closer and out of sight, (to go check the handle). If it’s open (1) picks up (2) a block from where he was spotting (out of sight). Boom, done. My homies just took minez for a ride, went to Mcdonalds, bought a slim jim, ashed on/in center, took booster seat fo chichi, left her pants and basically that’s it. Giving it to Rawhide now….

    • molon labe

      Code – 770 20 bucks.
      Seeing if it’s on private or public land now.. Remote starters don’t count, don’t require key.

  • Tarzan me jayne

    Wrong, I would like the headline to read:
    Crap load of car thieves shot and killed by ccw permit holders enforcing their right to protect their life as their cars were idling due to extreme cold. City has sent extra meat wagons to keep up with the felons piling up on the sidewalks to pickup the carcasses before the thaw.

  • hatchet

    Why can’t the dysfunctional Milwaukee police department do the job the tax paying citizens pay them to do. Why is Milwaukee the only city in Wisconsin where you can’t warm your car up on your own f$cking property that you pay some really hefty taxes on. In return you get almost no response from police in an emergency situation and streets that aren’t plowed for days after a snowfall. They find it easier to punish the victim rather then the criminal. This is the police departments solution to the out of control car theft problem in Milwaukee. Their told to watch for idling cars on cold mornings and issue citations. It is truly almost unbelievable . Next summer you won’t be able to mow your lawn with a wallet in your pocket because you might get robbed so will ticket you for carrying a wallet. I swear this has to be the most dysfunctional city in the United states if not it is surely in the top 5.

    • molon labe

      I believe it’s illegal off your property, who are they to say what you can or cannot do on your own property right? It’s not like we’re starting bon fires in our backyards living in the city. Show me the Ordinance about not being able to heat your car up on your property.

    • Save our city

      Chris if that is how you feel about it your part of the problem. Nobody should have to be told they can’t leave their car warm up on their private property. This is a severe breakdown of crime control in the city that is the real problem. However because it is too hard to create solutions to the crime they will go after the easy target the victims of the crime.

      • molon labe

        I’m pretty sure it’s NOT illegal on your property. I’m pretty sure they HAVE to come out to the scene. I’m also pretty sure that it’s a pain in the ass for the MPD. Say it’s illegal (scare) the constituents into thinking it’s illegal.
        Lemme work on the solution

    • Fred

      Exactly! The cops do the best they can cleaning the crap off the streets – but the system just dumps it right back out there to pollute the area once again. Instead of a trolley and an arena, why not spend that money on a new roach motel to house the vermin who are victimizing the city.

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