Thefts of two particular car brands are on the rise in Memphis. Kia models newer than 2011 and Hyundai cars newer than 2015 are the primary targets.
Experts say they are the easiest cars to steal, but there are ways to discourage thieves.
“How could somebody take someone’s possessions that they work so hard for?” Tyler Stitt said.
Stitt said he came home from work last month and woke up the following day with his Kia Optima gone.
“When I went to the impound lot, they have multiple Kias out there. They even brought a Kia in there while me and my wife was down there that was still running. They had ditched,” said Stitt.
He is not alone. Memphis police said there had been a recent uptick in Kia and Hyundai thefts, particularly key start models.
The thieves dismantle the steering column and override the ignition system by force.
FOX13 found a demonstration video on YouTube.
“What they do with these Hyundais and Kias is they peel your steering column, put a phone charger in, and it overrides the chip in the key. And watch this,” the man in the video said. “That gave me ACC. And watch this; fire in the hole.”
The trend gained popularity nationwide after videos on social media sites like TikTok showed how easy it is to hotwire the cars.
“The steering column is just torn apart. They urinated in the backseat. The driver’s side, both tires are shredded because they drove on it until they cracked the wheel,” Alena Clark told FOX13.
Clark’s Kia Forte was stolen from her apartment complex in Cordova.
“We’re looking at right now, not even including the body damage, five thousand dollars,” said Clark.
And to make matters worse, Clark says suspects committed other crimes while using her car.
“They strong-armed a guy, stole his wallet, then withdrew money from his bank account. Then used that money to post bond,” said Clark.
Retired Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Benni Cobb said to purchase a steering wheel lock to discourage thieves.
“You get the steering wheel lock, put it across the steering column, and that would keep your column from being broken and taken,” said Cobb.
You can also put a tracking device in your car.
“You can get your GPS tracking system. Of course, that’s after the fact. Motion detector in your vehicle to actually notify if someone gets in your car,” said Cobb.
If you witness someone committing crimes on TikTok or any social media app, Memphis police ask that you report it to Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.
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