CHICAGO — Chicago police issued a community alert on Monday after the department revealed more than a dozen motor vehicle thefts or break-in attempts involving often-targeted Kia and Hyundai models over nine days.
Since April 29, CPD says they’ve taken at least 16 reports of stolen vehicles or someone attempting to steal a Kia or Hyundai on Chicago’s South Side. Of those, one occurred in the area of Guaranteed Rate Field at the same time a game was underway.
It’s a crime that community activist Andrew Holmes says isn’t victimless.
“It’s costing people more money in heartaches and pains to replace these cars,” Holmes said. “Some of these Kia’s and cars that have been stolen, it’s their only means of transportation into work.”
According to police, the targeted vehicles were parked on the streets, only for victims to return and find their cars missing. In some instances, the victims returned to their vehicles to find a
a window was broken and/or the steering column peeled during a failed attempt, police added.
“We’ve given out many a club, but they still bust that back window to get in, to ransack that car to see what valuables they can take,” said Holmes, who has engaged in efforts across the region to help combat vehicle thefts.
While he feels it’s important to take proactive steps to protect one’s property, Holmes told WGN News that the issue is far more alarming.
“You can get all of the security devices you have on these cars, but they’re still finding a way to get them – even through the steering columns,” he said.
Incident times and locations include:
- 800 block of W. 49th Place on April 29 between 12:10 a.m. – 6:15 p.m. (New City)
- 5100 block of S. Loomis on April 29 between 10 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. (New City)
- 4800 block of S. Racine Avenue on April 30 at 7 p.m. (New City)
- 5100 block of S. Loomis Blvd. on May 1 at 1:30 a.m. (New City)
- 5400 block of S. Racine Avenue on May 1 at midnight. (New City)
- 1700 block of W. Garfield Blvd. on May 2 at 11 a.m. (New City)
- 2700 block of S. Halsted on May 3 at 2: p.m. (Bridgeport)
- 2900 block of S. Emerald Avenue on May 4 at 12:01 a.m. (Bridgeport)
- 300 block of W. 35th Street on May 4 at 1:10 p.m. (Armour Square)
- 200 block of W. 24th Street on May 4 at 5:30 p.m. (Chinatown)
- 2900 block of S. Quinn Street on May 4 at 11:30 p.m. (Bridgeport)
- 5400 block of S. Justine on May 5 at 7 p.m. (New City)
- 300 block of W. 29th Place on May 5 at 8:30 p.m. (Armour Square)
- 1300 block of W. 51st Street on May 6 at 6:20 a.m. (New City)
- 3600 block of S. Winchester on May 6 at 11:45 a.m. (McKinley Park)
- 5100 block of S. Richmond on May 6 at 8 p.m. (Gage Park)
In March, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul urged Kia and Hyundai to take “comprehensive action” over car thefts in the Chicago area, adding that both automobile manufacturers failed to equip vehicle models with anti-theft immobilizers, which prevent the vehicle from operating without a key or key fob.
“I urge Kia and Hyundai to accelerate a software upgrade to ensure consumers’ vehicles are properly equipped to guard against theft. Additionally, these companies need to provide free alternate protective measures to owners with vehicles that cannot support the software upgrade,” Raoul said. “I stand committed to protecting consumers and our communities, and I urge these car companies to do their part to prevent these thefts.”
The AG’s office said there were over 7,000 Hyundai and Kia thefts in Chicago in 2022.
In February, the two automakers announced theft deterrent software for millions of vehicles that lack an immobilizer, saying they would provide it free of charge. Both companies also worked with law enforcement in 12 states to offer tens of thousands of steering wheel locks.
But Holmes, much like Raoul, believes more should be done.
“They should recall all of these cars until they can come up with a device that can stop all of these thieves from taking them,” Holmes said.
Year to date, through the end of April, CPD data shows 9,664 motor vehicle thefts have been reported – up 133% from the same period last year – where 4,146 vehicle thefts were documented.
The number of Kias and Hyundais included in the list is unclear, but the issue has been prevalent nationwide. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration told WGN that it has met with the two manufacturers repeatedly to discuss the causes contributing to theft vulnerability while also reviewing the scope of differing software and hardware in the affected models.
Holmes hopes more can be done to address local’s concerns.
“It has to stop and it’s going to keep going until they come up with a real solution,” he said.
Chicago police offered some steps for Hyundai and Kia owners. The department cautioned owners to obtain anti-theft steering wheel locks from their local Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy office. At all 22 CPD police districts, residents can also have a unique, traceable marking etched into their vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Anyone with information may leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.
“I throw this back in the hands of Kia and Hyundai,” Holmes said. “If they stopped buying these cars, it would put a burden in their pockets because right now, the burden is in the consumers’ pocket.”