ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Car thieves targeting Kia and Hyundai models struck at a Rockford car dealership lot Wednesday night, trying to steal a car a couple had dropped off for service.
“We were pretty angry, upset, not really with the dealership per se, just in general with the group that is going out trying to steal Hyundai and KIAs,” said Melissa Lyons.
Nationwide, teen thieves, patterning themselves after a TikTok trend called “Kia Boyz,” have been stealing cars and taking them to perform dangerous stunts, light them on fire, or commit other crimes and then boast about it on social media.
Lyons and her boyfriend, Daniel Bice, dropped off their 2015 Hyundai Sonata for repairs at Hyundai on Perryville, at 343 N Perryville Road.
Just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, thieves broke into the car.
The steering column was torn out, the back window smashed in, and their catalytic converter: gone.
“Cars that they are targeting are the ‘key to start’ cars, not the ‘push to start’ and they rip off the steering console and start the car with a USB cable, and that’s how they are stealing them,” Lyons said.
The thieves then stole another car from the lot and drove it as far as the Lowe’s across the street.
Lyons said police told her at least 5 cars on the lot had been broken into. She also said police told her the thieves have been operating across the city, in four-person groups: two go to work on the target car while the others serve as lookouts.
According to some reports, thieves can exploit a design flaw in Kia and Hyundai models that make them easier to steal.
Police in Beloit this week warned of a recent rash of car thefts all involving Kia and Hyundai models, and are offering free steering wheel locks to owners at next week’s National Night Out event on August 3rd.
Lyons car now, it needs $7,000 in repairs, which she says is more than the car is worth.
“I mean, they are good cars. We have had two of them at this point now. I liked them both. I don’t think it will drive me away from purchasing one, [I’ll] just take better precautions [and get the] push to start [version],” Bice said.
“We feel a lot better today, after talking with Hyundai and the manager. He’s making sure we are getting taken care of with it and I’m hoping the other families, that had the same thing happen to them, are feeling a little bit better knowing that it’s going to be taken care of soon,” Lyons said.
Hyundai on Perryville said they are reviewing security procedures on their lot.
Kia customers with questions should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).
Hyundai customers with questions should contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.