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Car thieves using old trick to steal Hyundais, Kias in Columbus

Columbus police said the old-school way of stealing cars has become a trend across the country.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus police say thieves are using an old trick to steal certain cars recently.

According to police, dozens of specific cars have been stolen in the past couple of weeks with the control panels ripped right out.

Benita Pinager was one of those victims last week.

“I feel violated. I'm not going to live in my house in fear,” Pinager said.

Pinager said she was home on Friday when she heard a noise outside. When she went out front to see what was going on, she noticed her car was missing from the driveway.

Columbus police quickly tracked down the 16-year-old suspect. He led them on a high-speed chase and crashed the car. He was taken into custody.

But Pinager is part of a growing trend. Her car is now a hot target.

“It was a Kia Sportage, 2020,” she said.

Police said they are targeting specific models because they learned how to on YouTube.

“Where most car companies have switched over to a key fob, where the key has to recognize the engine and vice versa and it starts. Kia has some sort of flaw in it and that's not happening. These kids are able to peel the columns and start the car with a USB port or a screw driver,” Columbus Police Commander Duane Mabry said.

Mabry says if you own a Hyundia or Kia, you better add extra security so you don't become the next target.

“Go buy the club and put it on your cars to secure your car,” Mabry said.

Pinager says she works hard for what she has. She has gotten a new kia and will protect it.

“I'll take extra precautions. I now know what to do,” she said.

Kia America released a statement to 10TV Wednesday, saying: 

"Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of certain trim level vehicles in the Columbus area. From the 2022 Model Year, all Kia vehicles will have an engine immobilizer fitted as standard. All Kia vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia)."

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