Car Dealerships Targeted as Vehicle Thefts Surge in Syracuse Car Dealerships Targeted as Vehicle Thefts Surge in Syracuse

Anthony Leon: It’s hard to look right… at your car that was once there, and is now lost. With Syracuse police reporting a 65 percent increase in car thefts compared to last year, Lieutenant Matthew Malinowski says there are easy steps you can take to protect your vehicles.

Matthew Malinowski: So what we really try to advise people is it’s super important to hide your valuables but locking your car doors and windows… you’d be surprised about or on the amount of people who don’t actually don’t do that simple task.

Leon: Even if you’re considering a new car, thieves aren’t only targeting personal vehicles.

When you come to visit a car dealership, like Driver’s Village in Cicero, you come here looking to find a car in pristine condition. However, more of these cars are getting broken into. Specifically, with the Kia challenge exposing a massive security loophole in Kia and Hyundai models, specifically from 2011 to 2021. From that challenge, people learned that all you need is a screwdriver and a USB cord, like this one, to hotwire cars similar to these.

Malinowski: So now it’s really beyond that kind of common sense safety we ask from victims and even when they do everything right, they still could get their vehicle stolen so that’s been a unique challenge this year.

Leon: Back in August of this year, several individuals broke into Driver’s Village and drove multiple vehicles right off the showroom floors at Burdick Dodge and Burdick Lexus. Although the community is still reeling from these attacks, Syracuse police say they’re working with the affected dealers to prevent future break-ins.

Malinowski: With one of the local dealerships, we cut back a lot of the brush so you can see into the dealership at nighttime for security purposes, help them install cameras, lights, fencing, all those types of deals.

Leon: Through proactive policing measures, these businesses can better secure their property.

Reporting in Syracuse, I’m Anthony Leon for NCC News.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)Car break-ins are increasing in Syracuse, and thieves aren’t only targeting personal vehicles.

Car thefts have increased by 65% compared to last year, according to Syracuse police. Specifically, some car brands are easier to steal compared to others.

Due to the Kia Challenge, a viral TikTok trend, criminals are exploiting a manufacturer’s defect in Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2011 and 2021. Although both brands are working to fix the issue, Lieutenant Matthew Malinowski explains how this challenge has created a unique problem for Syracuse police.

“What we’re running into now, especially with the Kia and Hyundai challenge and the manufacturer’s defect of those vehicles, [is] that they’re incredibly easy to steal, very quick,” Malinowski says. “Simply, you can break the steering column, use the end of a phone charger, USB style, [and you] can turn that car over and take it.”

Robbers are also stealing vehicles from car dealerships. In August, several people smashed showroom windows at Burdick Dodge and Burdick Lexus and drove cars right off the lots. Syracuse police say with new cameras, lighting, and fencing, the affected dealers at Driver’s Village can better protect their property.

“We do work with the dealerships that were having theft occur from their lots,” Malinowski says. “We were going in there and not only say having police drive through the lots to check that way, but also looking at their environment and figuring out ways we can make them safer.”

Stolen vehicles are often used for joyrides or are used to commit other crimes. Since a vehicle’s license plate is registered to someone, Malinowski says people should protect their cars so they don’t accidentally get tied to a crime. 

“If you are driving a stolen vehicle and commit a crime and then leave that vehicle somewhere, it’s not easily obtainable for me to figure out who that person was driving,” Malinowski says. “So I think that’s the advantage of why people want to steal vehicles.” 

Police urge people to hide their valuables and lock their car doors and windows so thieves can be discouraged from taking the vehicles.

Related Articles