KIA sends warning letter to owner the same day thieves targeted her car

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – How about this for bad timing? On the same day someone tried to steal a young woman’s KIA outside her home, she got a letter from KIA warning her that she was a potential target. And the car maker’s letter told her to go to a dealership to get a software update to protect her car.

“That letter came when?” I asked Ebony Sanders.
“Yesterday in the mail,” she said.
“And your KIA got broken into?”
“Unbelievable timing,” I said.
“Yes,” Sanders agreed. “Yes.”

When Sanders woke up Monday morning, she found her KIA Sportage damaged. The back window was shattered. The steering column was ripped open. For some reason, the thieves didn’t take the car. But, this has happened to hundreds of people in our community this month.

Brean: “What would you like to say to them?”
Sanders: “I would like to say to them – you took a piece of me.”

The letter from KIA, was dated January 27, but was sent to Sanders’ mother’s house in Irondequoit where she used to live. It said she may be “potentially affected” by the car thefts because her car was made in 2013. The letter tells Sanders to go to a dealership to get a “software upgrade” to the car’s computer that will stop it from starting without the real key. 

Friday, Congressman Joe Morelle wrote a letter to the leaders of KIA and Hyundai chastising them for the design failure that makes some turn-to-start models easy to steal.

“These two manufactures, only 25 percent of their vehicles have adequate safety measures,” Morelle said. “96 percent of all other auto manufactures have made changes to their vehicles. So, this is really a burden they have to bear.”

Sanders is just one of the victims I’ve talked to who have had their KIAS or Hyundais stolen or damaged in the attempt.

In the letter to Sanders, KIA says it delivered steering wheel locks to local police departments to give to owners for free. The Monroe County Sheriff’s office already went through its supply. Tuesday Greece police just got a delivery from Hyundai. RPD hasn’t received any yet.

Brean: “I can feel it that this is affecting you, right?”
Sanders: “It is. I couldn’t even sleep last night. I was like, I can’t believe this happened to me. But it did.”

The KIA letter says the software upgrade is free and you get a sticker for your car. That’s meant to warn thieves that they’re not going to be able to get this one.

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