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Thieves stole their Kias multiple times, now their insurance companies are dropping them

<i>WISN</i><br/>Kerry and Michael Lawrence said within months of signing a three-year lease with Kia
Kerry and Michael Lawrence said within months of signing a three-year lease with Kia

By Caroline Reinwald

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    MILWAUKEE (WISN) — Two families tell WISN 12 News their Kias were stolen multiple times and now their insurance companies are dropping them.

Kerry and Michael Lawrence said within months of signing a three-year lease with Kia, their car was stolen from their driveway in August 2021.

After getting the car replaced by a new Kia, that car was then stolen in March 2022 downtown near Turner Hall.

Finally, they were targeted a third time within hours of getting their replacement vehicle. This time in Bay View in April 2022.

“We were stuck in the lease. They told us it would be $4,000 to break it,” Kerry said.

“When they find the cars, the seats are ripped out. We had kids seats in there, so they knew it was a family car. That’s the thing that hurt the most,” Michael said.

Recently, The Lawrences said they received a letter in the mail from their insurance company, Progressive, saying it was not going to renew the family’s policy.

“I called them up and explained we were not dangerous driving or reckless driving, we were victims of a crime three times,” Michael said. “They said it doesn’t matter, they have three marks against our name.”

They aren’t the only ones facing the same problem.

Jeanette Shields said her Kia was stolen twice in the same area on Milwaukee East Side, first in July 2021 and again in November 2022.

Shields said the first time, the thieves caused $14,000 in damage.

“I think they put sugar in the tank, is what thy told me. That’s why they had to replace my engine,” Shields said.

Shields said within four days of getting her car back from getting fixed, it was stolen again.

“Someone told me they saw my yellow Kia on Tik Tok the second time. They went for a joy ride and they purposefully rolled it into a street pole,” Shields said.

“I had one of those club things on the steering wheel,” Sheilds said. “(The police officer who found it) said, ‘Those clubs don’t work very well. I’m looking at it right now, it’s laying on the floor of your car.'”

Shields said her insurance company, West Bend Mutual, told her it will likely drop her coverage as well.

“I don’t understand, I’m the victim, not the criminal,” Shields said. “I can understand it’s odd to have two thefts on the same vehicle, but it’s not my fault. It’s those kids, it’s the Kia Boys.”

The City of Milwaukee is suing Kia and Hyundai for the rash of thefts the city has experienced in the last two years.

Milwaukee Police Department previously told WISN 12 News thieves are stealing 30 cars a day in Milwaukee.

WISN 12 News asked the Lawrences what their message to people watching would be.

“100% don’t buy a Kia,” Michael responded. “It’s not worth the headache, whether you’re buying, leasing, renting, loaning, borrowing. It’s not worth it.”

“We were really naïve when the first car was stolen,” Kerry said. “We were so incredibly shocked at the lack of what the police could do. They couldn’t do anything.”

“Kia really, they couldn’t have been less helpful. We constantly felt victimized,” Kerry said.

WISN 12 News reached out to both Progressive and West Bend Insurance companies but did not get an immediate response.

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Insurers sent the following statement in response to our request:

“Insurers use a variety of factors in determining rates. Those factors and underwriting practices must correlate to the risk and may not be unfairly discriminatory. If a consumer has questions or a complaint about their auto policy, or concerns about dropped coverage or a denied claim, we encourage them to contact our office by visiting or calling (608) 266-3585.”

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