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Neighbors meet to discuss teens stealing Kias, Hyundais in Columbus

Juvenile judges, Columbus police and community leaders answered questions at a meeting Thursday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Groups of kids and teens have been stealing KIAs and Hyundais for months and nothing seems to be working to stop it. A meeting was held Thursday to start a discussion about a solution.

Toni Mezacapa is just one of the victims who said she's frustrated.

“My KIA got stolen twice in five weeks,” Mezacapa said.

Her KIA, like many others, was taken from outside of her home. It was then taken to a dealership, where it was stolen again.

Mezacapa, like many others who attended Thursday's meeting, heard from juvenile judges, Columbus police and other community leaders.

“I don't feel like anyone is addressing the issue of these 12 and 13 and 14-year-olds going out and stealing these cars,” Mezacapa said.

According to Columbus police, from January to the end of September 2020, more than 3,500 cars were stolen and 305 of them were KIA and Hyundai models. In that same time period in 2022, more than 6,600 were stolen with almost 3,000 being KIAs and Hyundais.

The judges fielded questions about the kid's parents, repeat offenders and what it's going to take to get this to stop.

“It's educating the youth, helping the youth grow up in the process, to understand that their actions have consequences,” said Judge George Leach, head juvenile court judge of Franklin County.

The organizer of this meeting said he hopes to have another meeting soon.

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