Rochester in middle of spike of stolen cars, mostly KIAs and Hyundais

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – “Well I’m nervous every time I go to bed,” David Fiorito said outside his house in the South Wedge. “I wonder if I’m going to have a car in the morning.”

What’s happening to the owners of KIAs and Hyundais in our city, like Fiorito, is nuts. Listen to this: Rochester Police say 169 cars have been stolen this year and 116 of them were either KIAs or Hyundais.

Last year, RPD says it reported 1,134 stolen vehicles. This year it’s on pace to reach 2,900.

Because of a how-to videos on social media, thieves have figured out a way to steal KIAs and Hyundais without a key, very quickly. They drive around looking for the make and models and when they see one, they try to take it.

“Yep, right over here is the first pile of glass,” Fiorito said walking to the curb where his car was parked.
Fiorito says since Christmas someone has tried to steal his KIA three times. “This is from last week. This is the glass pile from last week’s break-in. The third break-in,” he said pointing to another pile of broken glass. “I just have to hope and pray every single night I have a way to get to work.”

“As you look around we’ve got KIA, Hyundai. Another Hyundai. Another Hyundai. Another KIA,” said RPD Lt. Greg Bello.

Bello got me into the city impound lot. The airbags are deployed in some of the stolen cars. In most of them the ignition is damaged. Even if people can prove they own the car, it usually has to be towed to a garage because it’s so damaged.

“Yeah, the ignition popped on that one,” Bello said of a KIA getting loaded onto a flatbed truck. “So we really want to encourage people to park those in garages, get wheel lock devices, like The Club.”

Fiorito turned his ransacked KIA in for a new one with more safety features.

“And they were saying that all these folks that are stealing the cars, it’s for fun and that it’s a game and they try to do it in under five minutes. And if they can’t do it under five minutes, it’s not safe and they move on,” Fiorito said. “So that’s probably why my car has been ransacked three times and just left.”

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We obtained a copy of security video showing a KIA being stolen in Rochester. The camera shows the thief walk around the car. The thieves are not looking for unlocked cars. They want cars with key ignitions. In the video, you can hear the thief smash the window. Then the thief gets in and gets to work. With the help of a how-to video on social media, he knows to tear the ignition apart and use a device to start the car. Fifty seconds after he broke the window, the headlights come on. Ten seconds later he peels away.

Brean: “Have you caught any of the people doing this?”

Lt. Greg Bello, RPD: “Yeah, we’ve made quite a few arrests in these. Unfortunately, they’re frequently juveniles and they get referred to the family court system and they also end up getting released on appearance tickets or the adults we catch are released on appearance tickets because it’s not considered a violent crime.”