Metro residents seek accountability for ongoing Kia and Hyundai auto thefts

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:57 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Frustration is growing among victims of Kia and Hyundai auto thefts across the St. Louis Metro.

As of Monday morning, St. Louis Metropolitan Police tell News 4 they have reported 4,671 incidents of motor vehicle theft this year, compared to 2,834 reported incidents during the same period last year. They reported 4,132 incidents for all of 2021.

“I’m like this is getting outrageous at this point,” said Dor-Ella Pearson.

Car thieves stole Pearson’s 2012 Hyundai Sonata back in early August from right outside of her South City home. A week later, a Good Samaritan found her car totaled just around the corner from her place.

“I’m trying to start school, so I’m [going to] be paying out of pocket as well, so I can’t on another burden,” she said.

It is a burden Sarah Gabriel also felt when her car was stolen last month near Soulard.

“It’s an uncomfortable to know that somebody took my property away from me. It’s sort of uncomfortable and violating to feel that way,” she said.

“Certainly you feel for anyone who is victimized by a crime like this, money out of their pocket, time that they spend trying to get their car fixed,” said Dr. Dan Isom, Public Safety Director for the City of St. Louis.

Isom tells News 4 that beyond increasing patrols in areas where vehicles are being stolen, and using electronic technology to track these car thieves, their work stops after an arrest is made.

The Circuit Attorney’s Office tells News 4 they work with police to review evidence and issue charges in accordance with Missouri law.

“Generally for stolen autos, which is not a violent crime, the individual probably will not be held without bond...there will probably be some bond, and so that person will probably be released,” said Isom.

If the suspect is a juvenile, it is even less likely they will be held long in the Juvenile Detention Center.

“However, juvenile will attempt to follow up with the juvenile and their parents to try to intercede,” said Isom.

This leaves some residents asking, who, then, should take accountability.

“The parents need to be held accountable too, because you should know what your child is into, you should get more involved into your child or what they’re doing,” said Pearson.

Gabriel said she would like to see a solution that includes more of the community coming together to help these teens stop committing auto thefts rather than incarceration.

“I believe very strongly if anybody is going to take accountability for it, it better be Kia and Hyundai, because oh my goodness, it is just the biggest design flaw I could possibly imagine,” said Gabriel.

Last month, the city issued a letter to both Kia and Hyundai giving them both 30 days to alleviate the ongoing issue with these cars being stolen in the Metro, or the city would pursue legal action. Monday marks that 30 day point.

Both Isom and a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office says the car manufacturers have replied and they are reviewing their responses. However, neither provided additional details as to what their response was or if a lawsuit will be filed.