Inside Milwaukee’s Car Theft Crisis

A new YouTube video sheds troubling light on the surge in car thefts over the past two years and, more importantly, what can be done to stop them.

June 3, 2022
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

The City of Milwaukee doesn’t just have a problem with car theft and reckless driving; it has a crisis.  As of this writing, 3,568 vehicles have been stolen so far this year—an average of more than 23 per day and nearly one every single hour.

This shocking average has been the new normal since 2020, when a massive surge in crime enveloped the countries as Democrat leaders dramatically reduced law enforcement agencies in the disastrous “Defund the Police” movement.  Milwaukee was among the national leaders in homicides, setting all-time records for the past two years.

Car thefts, too, spiked as a large, loosely organized group of teenagers (and even younger children) calling themselves the “Kia Boyz” began boosting vehicles at a staggering rate.  Why? According to them, because they could.

At least, that’s what they said.

In a new 16-minute video entitled “Kia Boys Documentary: A Story of Teenage Car Theft,” YouTuber Tommy G does what no mainstream journalist in Wisconsin has either been able or willing to do: Interview some of the teenage thieves themselves.

“Have you ever gotten into a police chase?” Tommy asks one of the boys, whose identities are concealed.

“They can’t chase,” he quickly answers.  “Well, they can but after you start doin’ some dangerous s*** they terminate it.”

Almost on cue, a red car speeds past the spot of the interview and careens wildly into a front yard, narrowly missing a fire hydrant, a house, and a young woman.

“That was wild!” she tells Tommy G, who ran over to her after seeing the car come within a few feet of her.

“Is that normal?” he asks her.  “Have you ever seen something like that before?”

“Yeah, every day,” she responds without hesitation.

This is life in Milwaukee, and the Kia Boyz readily admit that it doesn’t have to be.

“Are you scared to go to jail” asks Tommy.

“S***, you only gonna do like three weeks. S***’s a misdemeanor,” is the revealing answer.

“You only do three weeks for stealing a car?”

“Hell yeah, it’s misdemeanor s***.”

“So there’s really no punishment for this?”

“Hell naw.”

From the literal mouths of babes: Car thefts have exploded because car thefts are not punished, especially when committed by juveniles.  Because the Kia Boyz have nothing to fear, they see no downside to their criminal behavior.  They get a cheap thrill from boosting and then driving a “stolie” before invariably crashing it and looking for another but never have to worry about the joyride ever really stopping.

They do, however, seem to fear one thing.

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m only scared of the black trucks,” says one of the boys.  “F*** the police.  I’m only scared of the black trucks.  F*** the police.”

The “black trucks” are the vehicles driven by the Milwaukee Police Department’s elite enforcement and investigation units.  They are heavily armed, highly trained, will pursue criminal suspects with outstanding warrants, and will make sure they get their man.

And the Kia Boyz are terrified of them, because they represent actual consequences.  It seems elementary that a fear of consequences would dissuade deviant behavior, but Milwaukee public policy has operated as if this wasn’t the case for years.

In this magical thinking, hiring more police officers, saturating the streets with them, charging crimes to the fullest extent allowable, and handing down stiff sentences upon conviction won’t change the calculus of criminals.  Now the criminals themselves are admitting that they will.

It’s about time Milwaukee listens to them.