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Car thieves targeting Kias and Hyundais, police warn

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called the makes "easy targets" because certain models don't have electronic immobilizers.

DENVER — It's a relief when Stephanie Metcalf sees her red 2017 Kia Sportage parked where she left it.

These days, she and her husband Jimmy Metcalf have taken to leaving the window blinds in their apartment open and peeking out toward the parking lot to make sure the car is still there.

They learned the hard way that thieves are targeting certain models of Kias and Hyundais.

Police departments, including the Greeley Police Department, say the increase in thefts is partially due to a TikTok trend "showing how easy it is to overcome the security features of the ignitions and external door locks."

"Before now, before the trend, nothing was ever wrong. We never had to do anything with our car. But now it’s a constant warning," Stephanie said. "I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t even hear about [the trend] until after ours got stolen."

When the Metcalfs recovered their stolen car, the thieves had pried off the ignition cover. They paid to have it repaired, only to have thieves break in and pry off the cover again in a second attempt to steal it. 

"So many times in such a short amount of time, it definitely feels like a target for sure," Stephanie said. 

Repair and recovery cost the Metcalfs $1,200.

"We had to dig into our rent money," Stephanie said. 

The dollar amount doesn't count the hassle of having to find alternative transportation and the new, makeshift anti-theft device Jimmy has installed. 

"You know, man, this is such a crazy way of doing this," he said as he demonstrated the pedal lock device combined with the bike lock cable the family now uses to secure their car.

The thieves are mostly targeting 2015 to 2019 model-year Kias and Hyundais because many lack electronic immobilizers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said. That makes them such "easy targets" that theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundai and Kia vehicles of those model years compared to other manufacturers, the organization said.

The Melcalfs have joined a class action lawsuit against Kia. Both Kia and Hyundai said cars manufactured today come with the anti-theft devices standard, and all their cars meet or exceed federal standards.

"We just want to have our car and not have to worry about it in the back of our mind," Jimmy said. "That’s it. We just want our car to be secure. That’s all we’re asking for."

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