CLEVELAND — Kia and Hyundai thefts continue to sweep Northeast Ohio and other parts of the country. The trend, largely driven by a social media fad, has prompted proactive measures by car owners, law enforcement and mechanics.
“It’s ridiculous, it really is,” said Jason Murphy.
The car mechanic said he hears about several stolen Kias and Hyundais daily on the West Side of Cleveland.
“Since the pandemic, it’s become an epidemic: stealing cars, stealing parts, stealing converters, whatever it is. It’s just been crazy,” he said.
Cuyahoga County’s Crime Strategies Unit told News 5 60% of vehicles stolen in the county during a 2-month period were Kias and Hyndais.
Law enforcement have connected some of the stolen vehicles to other crimes. In November, a stolen Kia barreled through the wall of a Bath Township gun store. The next month, a teenager fleeing police in a stolen Hyundai crashed into a Parma home.
Murphy, himself, had his family’s Kia stolen prior to the popularity of the TikTok challenge.
“It was stolen right out of our driveway, three months prior to us owning it,” he recalled. “They found it on the East Side in the middle of the street, out of gas. So obviously they didn’t steal it for parts.”
Though the theft predated the recent surge in stolen cars, Murphy and his wife said they felt compelled to help prevent others from going through the same experience. On social media, they offered to help install kill switches in Kias and Hyundais for a discounted price.
“If the key that you have doesn’t match the car that you’re trying to start, it will shut the car down and it won’t start at all,” he explained. “It will straight cut the power. [The thieves] might damage your vehicle, but you’ll at least still have your vehicle.”
Some police departments and employers, like University Hospitals, have offered steering wheel locks for Kia and Hyundai drivers. Murphy cautions the devices aren’t a complete deterrent for thieves because steering wheels can be cut.
Murphy is charging $100 to install a kill switch, plus the cost of the equipment itself, which typically averages $75. He told News 5 it’s another tool to prevent the accelerating problem.
“I’ve been there. I know how it feels. And if I can help anybody in any way, I’m willing to do it,” he said.
To contact Murphy, please call 216-926-0061.
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