STL area law enforcement stress what to do after finding stolen Kia or Hyundai

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Doing everything it takes did not stop North City resident Tennille Kenny from becoming the latest victim of the growing trend of Kia and Hyundai car thefts in the Metro.

“I took all the necessary precautions and steps that I needed to take,” said Kenny. “They stole my car with a club on it. I actually had a club on my steering wheel when they stole my car.”

Her model, a 2017 KIA optima with a pink memorial decal on the back passenger window, was stolen on September 9. Yet, the meaning behind the car is much more important to her than the car itself.

“That car was in memory of my daughter,” she said. “So now I’m feeling, ‘Wow, they’ve taken everything.”

Her daughter died of type one diabetes in January 2021. She hoped the memorial on the back would deter would-be thieves from taking her car. Since it happened, she is also worried about the contents still inside: some of her daughter’s ashes are in a necklace that she still had hanging inside the car.

“I don’t know if they threw it out of the car or if they left it in there,” said Kenny. “So it’s a bit much to know that she may be somewhere in the middle of the street somewhere.”

Like other residents across the Metro, she’s taken the steps to report her car stolen to local police but has not felt like the process has been seamless.

“They haven’t found it anywhere, so they can’t tell me any hotspots to look at or where they’ve been finding all of the abandoned cars at. I’ve just basically been going on Facebook, word of mouth from other coworkers,” she said. “And I just go look in those areas on my own.”

Kenny says police told her if she feels safe retrieving the car on her own, she can. However, News 4 wanted to know if that is truly the case, and what residents should really do if they discover their car after reporting it stolen.

“We definitely stress do not attempt to approach your vehicle,” said Officer Adrian Washington with the St. Louis County Police Department.

Both St. Louis County police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office say it is important to call the jurisdiction you reported your stolen car to, whether you find it abandoned or occupied. Also, share any air tag or other tracking device information you have on your car with police, but do not go trying to catch the stolen car on your own.

“You can run into the person who stole the car, who might not be the type of person you want to run into,” said Grant Bissell with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

It is also crucial people do not retrieve their car right away unless police say otherwise because any details still left on the car could help investigate who took it.

“We’re talking about fingerprints that are either on the door handle or even better yet, on the steering wheel. If you go and pull that door handle open and you put your hands on that steering wheel, those prints are gone,” said Bissell.

It is that type of evidence that could also track whether your car is linked to individuals who committed other crimes.

“Call us, let us do what we need to do as far as processing,” said Washington.

SLMPD (St. Louis City police( share a similar response as to what residents should do upon locating their car:

Overall, 911 (or the non-emergency number) should be contacted so that, again, an officer can respond to document that the vehicle was located, and ETU can come out and process the vehicle. If victims are in possession of their keys at the time they locate their vehicle, they still need to call 911 and not leave the area so that officers can document the recovery in the report.