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Hyundai and Kia thefts made October Chicago's worst month for car thefts in more than 20 years

October was Chicago's worst month for car thefts in more than 20 years
October was Chicago's worst month for car thefts in more than 20 years 03:58

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago saw the most stolen cars last month than any other month in 20 years thanks in part to thefts involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

There were more than 15,000 vehicles stolen this year in Chicago, with more than 3,000 thefts occurring just in the month of October, according to a CBS 2 analysis of police data.

The car thefts are part of a growing trend, where thieves utilize a USB hack to start Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Thieves may have been inspired by demonstrations on TikTok, which showed how to implement the hack.

The Austin community area was hit the hardest in the city, with more than 1,000 car thefts so far this year, followed by South Shore with more than 750 stolen cars, nearly 600 on the Near West Side.

In October alone, Humboldt Park saw 113 car thefts, Roseland 117, North Lawndale 133, South Shore 167, and Austin 252.

The hardest-hit streets were the 7400 block of South South Shore Drive in South Shore with 10 cars stolen, the 1700 block of North Merrimac Avenue in Galewood with five, and the 6800 block of South Oglesby Avenue in South Shore with four.

Chicago Police issued a community alert on Oct. 20 for Austin -- with five stolen Hyundai and Kia vehicles -- and again on Nov. 1 when Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in the Harrison (11th) District -- which includes Humboldt Park and East and West Garfield Park. The following day, another community alert was issued for those types of vehicles in the Grand Central (25th) District, which includes the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.

The thefts do not include the more than 1,400 carjackings that occurred this year, nor do they include thefts of catalytic converters, which has seen a sharp increase in Chicago and other cities during the pandemic.

CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards went to that block of South Shore Drive to see just how prevalent auto theft was. He asked people about it on the street.

"Oh yes, we had one on camera getting stolen right in front of our home," one woman said, proceeding to show Edwards the video.

A man named Levon said some thieves jacked up his car and tried to steal his catalytic converter – but his mother-in-law, Ms. Jackson, had her Kia stolen. She works at Midway International and lives in Hyde Park, and now she has to take the bus.

Altogether, thefts of Kias and Hyundais are up 969 percent countywide year-over-year.

We don't know what happened to Ms. Jackson's car, but it was found - banged up, with a bullet hole in it. 

"I'm glad that you're out here doing this; spreading some light," said Levon. "I'm hoping it will stop."

The Chicago Police Department would not provide comment for this story. Police said, "We're not going to comment at this time, as it would be speculation."

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