KGUN 9NewsLocal News

Actions

Kia owners still at risk of vehicle theft despite recall

Local woman shares how her Kia was stolen in the Southwest Tucson area
Kia Steering Column
Posted at 7:47 PM, Sep 12, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In February, Kia made a recall for models from 2011-2021 after a rise in thefts in 2021. The rise partially came from a TikTok trend that exposed a security flaw, making it easier to steal the vehicle.

The recall was to install an immobilization software that requires the key to be in the ignition in order to turn on. The installation is completely free for models made between 2011 and 2021 with a twist to start ignition.

As of May, only 210,000 Kias had received the software update with 4.5 million vehicles total eligible for the fix. The recall followed a rise in thefts because of a TikTok trend showing how to get the vehicles started using a screwdriver and USB cable.

Elyana Garcia is one of the victims of the trend. She lives in a quiet neighborhood off of Kinney Road and Ajo Way. She never would have expected waking up to an empty driveway.

“I worked hard to get my vehicle. Being a single mother it was hard to get on my feet and do it, but I did it. And for them to come into our home and take something from us, it’s wrong,” Garcia told me after her 2015 Kia Soul was stolen overnight the weekend of September 2.

When KGUN9 spoke to Garcia last week, she said she wasn’t aware of the recall and had only received a steering wheel lock from Kia.

KGUN9 followed up with her today over the phone to get an update. This past weekend, she got a call from a Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy.

“He called me saying they located my vehicle in Summit,” she said.

The steering wheel lock was on when it was stolen, but it was gone when she picked it up. She was left with damage to the steering column and the passenger side. Her key did not work when she picked up her vehicle in Summit, and she had to get it started with the USB cable.

She’s still waiting to find out if the vehicle is a total loss, but either way, she’s uncomfortable with the idea of continuing to use her car.

“I would rather them total it out because who knows what they’ve done in it? Me having a child, I’m pretty sure you would figure, you wouldn’t feel comfortable,” said Garcia.

She invested in security after the incident. As a general message to car owners, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department shared a few precautions, such as keeping car windows rolled up and parking in a well-lit, populated area.

——-
Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing reyna.preciado@kgun9.com or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.