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.