CHICAGO (CBS) — A national crime trend involving Kias and Hyundais is hitting the Chicago area hard — with thefts more than quadrupling in Cook County.
In light of the crime trend, the police want everyone to know what’s going on and how best to protect themselves and their cars.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina spoke to a woman whose Kia had just been stolen on Thursday. The woman, Juanita Blalock, said she wished someone had warned her.
Blalock’s 2020 Kia Sportage was parked a stone’s throw from her home in the West Englewood neighborhood around 3 p.m. Sunday — and suddenly it was gone. Blalock said she was home all the time with her blinds open to the street view.
The theft was close – and it was fast.
“Thank God I wasn’t in the car,” Blalock said. “You know?”
But the mess the 81-year-old has faced since then is his own problem.
“I’m a senior,” Blalock said. “I have a steady income.”
Should she file a police report, deal with her insurance company, and also given the higher cost of a replacement? It hurts.
“You struggle hard to pay your bills and get you a decent ride,” Blalock said, “and then someone comes along and picks it up.”
Blalock wished she had parked her car in her detached garage that rainy Sunday after church. She now wants to warn others – because she is not alone.
We learned that from July 1 to August 10, 642 Kias and Hyundais were stolen in Cook County. Last year in the same period there were only 74.
This equates to an increase of 767 percent.
“This whole issue has exploded,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Sheriff Dart said it’s important for people to be aware of it as they work to tackle every aspect of the crime.
“It’s just one of those things where people need to be aware that this isn’t just a minor anomaly where you have this type of vehicle a little more susceptible than others,” Dart said. “No, this one is off the charts.”
In a warning released Thursday, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said the trend of thieves targeting Kias and Hyundais is believed to be linked to the sharing of videos on social media showing such vehicles without key. can be started.
Thieves seem to like cars that need a key instead of a start button, the sheriff’s office said.
Meanwhile, Blalock had her Kia Sportage for less than two years and is told a new car to replace it will be much more expensive.
“The price is much higher than it was six months ago,” she said. “So I don’t know if I’m going to get a new car, or should I wait and let the prices drop?”
Blalock has a message as she prays for a call from the police, or a replacement car she can afford for her car.
‘Watch your car. Watch your back,’ she said. “There’s one thing for sure: you can get another car, but you can’t get another life. God bless you all.”
So why don’t the automakers warn people about this, or offer solutions? Neither of them responded to that question, but they each issued a statement.
“Kia America is aware of the increase in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim level vehicles. Immobilizers are fitted to all 2022 models and trims, either at the beginning of the year or as an on-going change. All Kia vehicles sold for sale in the US, meet or exceed the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
“Kia customers with questions about their Kia vehicle can contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).”
“Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent surge in auto thefts of certain Hyundai models. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately our vehicles have been the target of a coordinated effort on social media Criminals are targeting our vehicles without immobilizers Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles manufactured after November 1, 2021.
“To assist customers with previous model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has partnered with and will continue to support local law enforcement to make steering wheel locks available to affected Hyundai owners. In addition, Hyundai has identified a Firstech/Compusar security kit that will focuses on the access method thieves use to access these vehicles.
“From October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealers and authorized Compustar installers nationwide. Hyundai will provide additional details shortly and customers with questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800 -633-5151.”
The sheriff’s office advised owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles to take steps such as installing aftermarket immobilizers — or kill switches — that render a car useless without a separate key. Vehicle alarms with motion detection, steering locks and vehicle tracking systems are also advised.
“Maybe there are things you’d like to explore,” Dart said. “Of course, go to our website about tips and things to do. But there are some old-fashioned things that people used to do, like the Club and things like that, are things that can prevent this.”
The Sheriff’s Office also asked Kia and Hyundai owners to fill out a consent form on their website allowing law enforcement agencies to gain the cooperation of vehicle manufacturers to more quickly track down stolen cars. Car owners who sign the consent form can also get a sticker on their car to warn would-be thieves that the car is being tracked by investigators.
The stickers are also available at all Cook County courthouses.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that it has been aware of an increase in thefts of Kias and Hyundais across the country since 2019. were only stolen last year.
The agency had no information specific to Illinois about thefts from Kia and Hyundai, but they did have information about our northern neighbors. In Wisconsin, the NICBs Hot Wheels Report 2021 indicated that seven of the top 10 most stolen vehicles were Kias and Hyundai.
In order, they were the Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Kia Forte, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Soul. A total of 1,006 Hyundai Elantras were stolen in 2021 alone, the NICB reports.
In contrast, none of these vehicles were among the NICB’s most stolen vehicles Hot Wheels Report 2020 for Wisconsin.
The NICB offered the following theft prevention advice, some of which echoed what Dart advised:
- Practice good safety hygiene.
- Make sure your car policy is up to date.
- Roll up your windows, lock your doors and grab the keys or remote.
- Park in well-lit areas and, if possible, areas manned by security personnel and further protected by surveillance cameras.
- Remove valuables from your car or keep valuables locked in your trunk or out of sight under an aft deck cover.
- Consider adding an immobilizer or tracking device for your vehicle.
If your vehicle is stolen, call the police and your insurer immediately. Data from NICB shows that reporting a vehicle as soon as possible after theft increases the chance of recovery.