AUSTIN (KXAN) — Auto thefts are on the rise in Austin with no signs of slowing down.

Karen Watson walked out of her North Austin apartment to find her car missing. She said the suspect took her car and ended up wrecking it.

“My car was stolen right here out of this parking lot,” said Watson. “It was a teenager that wrecked my car and stole it.”

As of October, APD data showed there had been 4,254 auto thefts in Austin so far in the year, which is 650 more than the same time in 2021.

“Sure enough, one morning I drove by it and it wasn’t there,” said Alfredo Valladolid. “They found it in a neighborhood parked off to the side.”

Valladolid said a suspect was never found, but his car was left with a lot of damage.

“It was a bit of a shock,” said Valladolid.

Some Hyundai and Kia cars are becoming the targets of thefts.

Videos posted online show thieves prying the ignition cover off the vehicles, then using a screwdriver or USB cable to start them and drive away.

A Kia spokesperson said the company is concerned about the recent trend.

Kia remains concerned about the recent trend among youth in some areas, encouraged by social media, to target certain Kia cars with a steel key and “turn-to-start” ignition systems. In many cases, the vehicles are stolen solely for the purpose of operating in a reckless manner. Such criminal conduct endangers our local communities and violates property rights.

While no car can be made completely theft-proof, Kia continues to make steering wheel locks available to customers through interested local law enforcement agencies, subject to available supply, at no cost to concerned owners of these vehicles.

Kia also continues its efforts to develop additional solutions for vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer, including the development and testing of enhanced security software.
All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Kia Spokesperson

Hyundai also released a statement about the trend of thefts.

“We remain concerned about the increase in thefts of certain Hyundai vehicles that have been targeted in a coordinated social media campaign. Currently, Hyundai provides steering wheel locks, as available, to law enforcement agencies in impacted areas,” a Hyundai spokesperson said.

Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit which is available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships. The company is also developing a software update to further secure targeted vehicles, which should be available in 2023.