Breaking News
More () »

Car thieves continue to target Hyundai, Kia owners in Cleveland

One woman had her car stolen in the Flats in broad daylight. Days later, car thieves came back to strike again.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The theft of Kia and Hyundai brand vehicles continues to spike around Cleveland, with victims left stranded and frustrated.

The Cleveland Division of Police says the city has seen an increase in cars being stolen over the last few months.

"First of all I thought, 'did I not park in this parking lot?' I was very confused and then we noticed glass on the ground right in the spot where my car had been," Megan Kyea said.

Kyea's Kia Optima was stolen last Wednesday in broad daylight as she was packing up to leave work in the West Bank of the Flats. 

It's been a nationwide problem that started as a social media trend, with teens typically targeting 2021 or older models of Hyundais and Kias that do not have immobilizers which make them easier to start.

"Someone maybe 20 minutes before that happened had told me she had experienced the same thing in the West 25th area, and I was like 'oh I need to look up how to prevent this,' and I then I walked outside and mine was gone," Kyea said.

She was able to get a screenshot of the building's security footage that shows two individuals that appear to be teenage boys walking up to her car before they smash the passenger side glass and take off in it.

While she was trying to get the full footage on Tuesday afternoon, another employee experienced a similar incident.

"Right as I was kind of asking for the video, someone else was walking up to her car and trying to get into it, so they're dealing with this situation it seems like every other day," Kyea said.

Kyea is a single mother with a four-year-old and six-year-old and doesn't know how the thieves can be so brazen.

"So its like you looked in and saw two car seats and you chose that car anyways," Kyea said. "Not that I want anyone else to go through this either, but its like, what's the thought process?"

Cleveland police officials say there's been a significant uptick in these types of vehicles being stolen.

On Sunday, police were able to recover six stolen cars. Three were found near East 34th and Central Avenue, one was found at East 46th and Cedar Avenue, one at East 30th and Cedar Avenue and another in the 2100 block of East 31st. 

Kyea was hopeful one of the cars was hers, but no such luck.

Her insurance representative told her that even if her car is recovered, mechanics have been so backed up that she would have to wait a month or two for repairs.

"Seeing something on TikTok or Facebook and they think it's cool and unfortunately it just puts those of us, the victims, in a bad spot," Kyea said.

3News reached out to both Kia and Hyundai about the targeted thefts. A Kia America spokesperson released this statement: 

"Kia remains concerned about the recent trend among youth in some areas, encouraged by social media, to target certain Kia cars with a steel key and “turn-to-start” ignition systems. In many cases, the vehicles are stolen solely for the purpose of operating in a reckless manner. Such criminal conduct endangers our local communities and violates property rights. While no car can be made completely theft-proof, Kia continues to make steering wheel locks available to customers through interested local law enforcement agencies, subject to available supply, at no cost to concerned owners of these vehicles. Kia also continues its efforts to develop additional solutions for vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer, including the development and testing of enhanced security software. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Kia Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia)."

A Hyundai spokesperson sent this statement:

"We remain concerned about the increase in thefts of certain Hyundai vehicles that have been targeted in a coordinated social media campaign.  Currently, Hyundai provides steering wheel locks, as available, to law enforcement agencies in impacted areas.  In addition, Hyundai will provide two other options for owners of these earlier model year vehicles targeted by thieves.

  1. Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit that targets the method of entry used by thieves to break into these vehicles. These kits are available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. The MSRP for the kit is $170, and the estimated cost for installation may vary by location. 
  2. Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles.  We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates for other vehicles following thereafter. 

Please note that all Hyundai vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Some earlier models, without a push-button ignition, do not have engine immobilizers.  In November 2021, engine immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced.

Customers who have questions can contact the Hyundai Customer Care Center at 800-633-5151." 

3News asked the Hyundai spokesperson about free wheel locks and they added that "Hyundai is working with law enforcement in the greater Cleveland area and throughout the state. We are also working with police departments across the country and will continue to distribute wheel locks to support law enforcement."

Before You Leave, Check This Out