St. Louis had more than 1,200 2015-2021 Hyundais and 2011-2021 Kias stolen in July and August 2022 alone, according to the St. Louis Police Department.
“We’re looking at ways to hold big corporations accountable for a design glitch that’s driven a nearly 1,000% increase in car thefts and turned breaking the law into a viral challenge on social media.” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
Jones said automakers must recall affected vehicles and install immobilizer technology to avoid a lawsuit.
Hyundai and Kia have until Sept. 19 to take action to reduce targeted carjackings, St. Louis City Councilwoman Sheena Hamilton said.
“I hope to get damages, and everyone who suffers because it is unethical,” said car theft victim Khadijah Amirah. Amirah is a 33-year-old single mother with two children who works as a makeup artist and beautician.
Since May 2020, Amirah has been working on site and is heavily dependent on her vehicle. She said her 2015 Kia Soul was stolen on August 11 or 12 from her Benton Park residence. She described looking for her car outside on August 13 and not being able to find it.
The next day, the city’s towing department told Amirah that the Kia had been destroyed by two Wyoming Street teenagers, who fled the scene.
Amirah said she would have gotten a car club had she known about the sharp rise in carjackings. She also said she was frustrated with the city government and the police did not send out warning notices about the rise in thefts and solutions.
“It feels like torture, especially to the communities where I live,” Amirah said. “I consider myself a working class person. I have two children, [I’m] a divorced woman and small business owner.”
For Amirah to work on her clients, she had to travel for the first two weeks before she could regularly borrow vehicles from close relatives.
Amirah said the Kia was the first car she bought through financing in April 2021.
“I worked really hard,” Amirah said. “I was very proud of the car.”
Hyundai Motor America sent 100 steering wheel locks to the SLPD and a local Kia dealer donated 50.
“The city demands that Kia and Hyundai mitigate the faulty conditions by providing thieves – including teenagers as young as 13 – with the instruments with which they destroy property, endangering city drivers and themselves,” Hamilton said.
Thanks to viral videos on YouTube and TikTok, teens have learned how to start push-buttonless ignitions with a USB cord or phone chargers as keys. Teenagers figured out how to start push-buttonless ignitions with a USB cord or phone chargers as keys, after ripping out the columns. In addition, the rear windows of many Hyundais and Kias are not connected to the car’s security system, avoiding the triggering of the alarm. .
Hyundai announced plans to offer an aftermarket Firstech/Compustar security kit in October, which disables the starter, at prices ranging from $75 to $150 each.
“I had great support even from my son’s school, Cardinal Ritter prep.” Amirah said. “They understood the issues for me to pay for my son’s expenses. Because they knew the flight was a hardship for our family, they even checked on us to see how we were doing.
Amirah said the song she listens to daily that brings her peace when she feels anxious is “Jireh” from Maverick City.
Dasha Lyn, 30, owner of Soi STL, a recently opened black-owned day spa, had her 2019 Kia Optima stolen on Pershing Ave. on July 11 at his job in the Central West End. She left the living room to get something from her vehicle and saw her Blue Kia turn around.
When a nearby business gave her their security footage, she said it took the thieves about three minutes to break the rear window, start the car and drive off.
The next day the SLPD called her and told her that the car was destroyed and abandoned.
Her insurance covered a rental car for 10 days, now she relies on public transportation and Lyfts.
Lyn said she was in the process of buying a house before her car was stolen, but had to put it all on hold.
“Now it’s like running errands, public transit and Lyft, which is expensive, but I have a business to run. I have to get up two hours early to make sure everything is located.”
She said she spent twice as much on the necessities of not having a vehicle. She said commuting to work via Lyft alone costs $150 a week on average.
Lyn said: “At the show, hearing stories of car thefts seems commonplace.”
“Every day we’ll have five people saying someone stole my Kia or my Hyundai and having trouble with the SLPDs with the response time.”
Amirah said she works seven days a week due to the circumstances.
“I feel like I keep getting hit, and it hurts, but I’m very present with my mental health,” Amirah said. “I suffered from anxiety. So, I fought for it, I had the courage to continue.”
AAA recommends parking in a well-lit area; and remove spare keys and valuables.
“I was upset because I was like, why can’t I move on? and why am I going so high?” Amira asked. “My faith was what kept me from losing it. And so certainly a lot of meditation, prayer and reflection.”
Pierre Benoist, commander of the Fourth District, said the St. Louis Police Department is considering “donating” vehicle anti-theft equipment.
To learn more about vehicle anti-theft services, click here.
American St. Louis’ Isaiah Peters was also the victim of a Hyundai car theft. He has not yet recovered his vehicle.