STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) — The nationwide issue of stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles has also been seen in the Valley, and one woman spoke with First News after her Kia was taken from her driveway in Struthers.
Viral social media posts show how to hotwire these cars. The models most at risk are from 2011 to 2021 that use a physical key — not a push-to-start.
Lee Ann Reda drives a 2015 Kia Sportage. She woke up to find it missing Saturday.
“I thought, ‘Well, maybe my husband ran to get coffee or something,'” Reda said. “I came downstairs — I could hear him down in the basement and I’m like, ‘Babe, my car is gone.'”
Reda’s Ring Doorbell video picked up her car in her driveway at 3:37 a.m. before the device “jammed.”
Her neighbor’s door camera stopped working too about the same time. Reda thinks the culprits may have used a device that affected their WiFi.
On Monday, the car was found damaged just a few miles away on Youngstown’s South Side.
“The screwdriver they used is laying on the seat,” Reda said.
The spike in car thefts has been attributed to a TikTok challenge. Reda says there’s also an alarming trend where the alleged car thieves post their joy rides on social media.
“If you go on Instagram and just put in ‘Kia boys,’ you’ll find it all over the United States,” Reda said.
Cities across the U.S. have filed lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai, alleging the companies failed to install standard anti-theft technology. Cleveland filed its own lawsuit March 8. Columbus has also filed a lawsuit.
The car thieves damage the steering column when they hotwire the car.
“The steering columns are on backorder for weeks, possibly months. That’s how many Kias have been stolen,” Reda said.
One of the local Kia dealers say drivers of a Kia from 2011 to 2021 that uses a key can call the dealership. Workers there will ask for the VIN number, and they can determine if the car is eligible for a software fix.
Reda said the entire experience has left her feeling violated.
“I pick my grandchildren up in that car, and I couldn’t do that,” Reda said. “Someone’s been in my car. I don’t know what they’ve done in my car.”
No arrests have been made in this case. If you know anything about the recent string of car thefts in the area, you are urged to call the police.