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Kia offers free anti-theft software upgrade at Mayfair Mall event

Kia of America is hosting an anti-theft software upgrade clinic at Mayfair Mall on Oct. 20-22.
Kia of America is hosting an anti-theft software upgrade clinic at Mayfair Mall Oct. 20-22.

After a spate of Kia thefts in Milwaukee over the last few years, eligible car owners can receive a free anti-theft software upgrade. Kia is offering the upgrades at a Mayfair Mall event Oct. 20-22.

James Bell, the head of corporate communications at Kia America, says the clinic is a city-by-city campaign and the Milwaukee area is Kia’s first stop.

“In social media circles, the Kia Boyz problem actually started in the Milwaukee area so we’ve been very keenly aware of this crime issue,” Bell says. “We’ve worked with Milwaukee and Wisconsin-area police departments, going back to the start of this. We’ve worked with local government just making sure that everybody there is aware that we know about this problem and we’re trying to do everything that we can to assist.”

In 2021, there was a spike in Kia and Hyundai thefts that prompted local officials to call for action. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote a letter to the car manufactures in March of this year asking them to make changes to prevent theft. Kaul wrote that in 2020 there were about 900 Kia and Hyundai thefts, which increased to almost 7,000 the following year.

The City of Milwaukee sued Kia and Hyundai this year over the issue. Kia spokesperson Bell says the car manufacturer has worked with local police departments and officials to mitigate vehicle theft.

“We’ve learned that thieves hate things that inject time into their stealing process,” Bell says. “What the software upgrade does is runs the alarm on the vehicle for an extended period of time and also disables the ignition system for an extended period of time to make sure that any thief that attempts to steal a vehicle will cause delay in the process. What we’re learning from police departments all around the country is that once that happens, they usually leave the scene right away.”

The free clinic is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 22 at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. You can check if your vehicle is eligible by entering the VIN number on Kia’s Customer Care Center website. The software upgrade takes about as long as an oil change, and there will be a waiting area on site.

Bell says about 25% of affected Kia vehicles have received the upgrade so far.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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