Police urging drivers to use steering wheel locks as auto thefts surge

McKEES ROCKS, Pa. (KDKA) – McKees Rocks police told KDKA they’ve been seeing an uptick in people stealing Kias and Hyundais since mid-October, but they’re not the only cars falling victim there, and it’s a part of a broader auto-theft problem nationwide.

As Jenny Vogel looked at the Honda Accord she shares with her boyfriend, she couldn’t help but think what she would do if it was gone.

“This is our lifeline right there,” Vogel said. “It’s our way of getting around for our kids and everything.”

It nearly happened Saturday morning, parked outside her home on Rosamond Street in McKees Rocks.

Video from her surveillance camera captured the incident.

In it, you can see his shadow on the ground. He approaches the car and pulls the handle. Then he looks left and right, appearing to notice the camera, and runs.

Vogel couldn’t believe it.

“I’m like, ‘Babe, somebody tried to break into your car.’ He’s like, ‘Nah,'” Vogel said.

While she was lucky, others weren’t. The same morning, McKees Rocks police said they recovered two cars, including a Kia in photos shared on Facebook, where you can see the passenger side window broken and the steering column torn apart.

Captain Dave Finerty told KDKA they’ve taken in at least 15 stolen Kias and Hyundais in the past month, which experts say are becoming easy targets for thefts because of a flaw in their steering columns. They’re urging people to protect their cars with steering wheel locks to deter potential thieves.

“Going to make sure it don’t happen,” Vogel said.

Finerty told KDKA they believe the incident involving Vogel’s car isn’t connected. However, it highlights an increasing national issue.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, vehicle thefts rose 7% from 2021 to 2022, and current trends show this year may surpass that as criminals look to strip parts from cars to sell on the black market.

“I’m definitely thankful that he didn’t break in my car, didn’t get nothing,” Vogel said.

Vogel said she didn’t have anything of value in the car. She filed a police report, and investigators are on the lookout.

In the meantime, she wants to warn others to keep their eyes and ears open.

“Just be more aware, watch what you’re doing, you know, watch your vehicles,” Vogel said.

If you have any information about any of the stolen cars in the area, you’re asked to call McKees Rocks police at (412) 331-2302.


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