MILWAUKEE — A local leader is one of the latest car theft victims in Milwaukee.

Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel was in Milwaukee over the weekend with his wife. Doemel said they were getting ready to head home when they noticed their Kia was not where they left it.

Police confirmed the car had been stolen, according to Doemel.

He said Milwaukee police have done a great job handling his situation.

“You just feel terrible for them, because there’s not much they can do. Some of these kids are as young as 12, so you can’t just chase them because they’ll drive recklessly and put other people at risk,” Doemel said.

Car thefts in Milwaukee spiked during — and coming out of — the pandemic, according to Milwaukee Police Department data.

There has been a drop in car thefts in Milwaukee from this same time last year. So far, the department reports a 21% decrease from 2021 to 2022. 

Doemel said he believes, in many cases, solving an issue such as car theft in the city, comes down to mentoring opportunities for at-risk kids.

“Teenagers are gonna push the limits. It was no different when I was a teenager,” he said. “Now they’re seeing this, where the consequences just aren’t there. They’re stealing cars. That’s grand theft auto, but it’s not being treated as much. We can’t go back to the day where we just lock anybody up for anything. The pendulum has to come back the other way.”