AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police Department officers are looking for the suspects of two cases of car thefts that happened consecutively in March.
According to APD, officers responded to an auto theft call on Saturday, March 18, at 5:44 a.m. in the 3700 block of Werner Avenue.
Police said two suspects broke into a Kia Soul and drove away in it.
The next day, APD officers responded to a single-vehicle crash in the 2000 block of Alamo Street, where they found a white Kia Soul crashed into a home.
The crash site is about a mile away from the area the car was stolen from Werner Avenue.
Surveillance video posted on APD’s YouTube shows one of the suspects running away from the car after it crashed. Shortly after, two other vehicles — another Kia Soul and possibly a Hyundai Elantra, pictured below — leave the area at high speeds.
Police believe those two vehicles were also stolen.
The suspect/driver is described as:
- Black male
- Curly, black hair
- Approximately 6’0” tall
- Thin build
- He was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants, black socks and purple sandals
Monday, May 22, APD warned residents about an increase in “Kia Challenge” auto thefts, warning people who drive either Kia or Hyundai vehicles of a growing number of thefts targeting those cars throughout the community.
Two officers from APD’s auto theft interdiction team said this is likely part of the “Kia Challenge” making the rounds on social media. They described this scheme as thieves exploiting a “design vulnerability” in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which makes it easier for them to steal.
Police said thieves are ripping apart the steering column, exposing the wiring and then somehow using a USB to eventually start the vehicles and drive away.
Anyone with any details on the thefts should contact the APD Auto Theft Unit at email@example.com. You may submit your tip anonymously through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program by visiting austincrimestoppers.org or calling (512) 472-8477. A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for any information that leads to an arrest.