DENVER — This month, two car manufacturers announced a series of solutions to prevent thefts of its older models cars. For some, the solutions are too late.
"I just, I hope it works, and I hope it's to help solve some of these problems and these issues, because people need to be held accountable for what they do," said Sherese Ryan.
In early August, Ryan captured her Hyundai Sonata being stolen from in front of her Broomfield home.
"I suspected that it was part of the TikTok trend," said Ryan, referring to a viral social media challenge.
Videos posted under the hashtag "Kia challenge" or "Kia Boyz" on social media show people removing steering columns from certain Kia models and using USB cables to start ignitions. Older model Hyundai vehicles have been shown to have similar vulnerabilities.
This month, both Kia and Hyundai announced fixes to the rash of thefts targeting vehicles manufactured in 2021 and years prior.
A spokesperson for Hyundai said the manufacturer is releasing security kits this month that can be purchased and installed at Hyundai dealerships. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Compustar kits is $170. A car owner would also likely incur installation fees.
"Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles. We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates for other vehicles following thereafter," the spokesperson added.
Kia told Denver7 it's providing steering locks for free to law enforcement.
On Aug. 16, Ryan's car was recovered by Lakewood police. Photos taken from inside the vehicle show trash, equipment and dirt strewn inside the vehicle. Ryan's husband later found a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine in the car.
The car's exterior also had extensive damage.
"I bought it brand new... I paid it off last year, and then somebody took advantage of my car and destroyed it," said Ryan.
The steering column had been modified, similar to the cars associated with the "Kia challenge" on social media.
"The easiest way they were able to start my car at this point was with a flat head screwdriver,” said Ryan, demonstrating how the tool fit into the car's ignition.
"Now my car is destroyed and I don't have something to drive," Ryan continued. "The solutions are a little late for me, you know. I mean, great for everybody else. I just, I hope it works, and I hope it's to help solve some of these problems."
Tim Jackson of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said drivers should take advantage of the security measures.
"I would recommend that they do it, because these cars without the fix will always be suspect for vehicle theft. So if owners want to keep the car — want to keep their insurance premiums down, want to help cut down on crime in the community — then I would recommend that this is the most practical solution for consumers," Jackson said.
A little more than 4,000 cars are stolen a month in Colorado, putting the state on pace to reach a record-high for auto thefts this year, according to a report released last month. In Denver, auto thefts have skyrocketed with a 160% increase since 2018, and Hyundai and Kia models make up most of those.
Ernest Saldivar was arrested by Lakewood police in connection to Ryan's case. He's been charged with first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, three Level 1 drug misdemeanors and a drug petty offense.
According to his arrest affidavit, officers found Saldivar in possession of a meth pipe and several baggies filled with drugs at the time of his arrest.