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24 Kia, Hyundai vehicles reported stolen in Temple; multi-county task force talks safety and prevention

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 13, 2023

BELTON, Texas — There were 24 Kias and Hyundais stolen in Temple in the last month and a half, according to officials with the Temple Police Department.

Now all but two were recovered, but it's still a problem across Central Texas.

25 News' Bobby Poitevint talked with a task force looking into vehicles thefts for 14 counties to find out how Kia and Hyundai drivers can stay safe.

Investigator Joe Lopez is with the Sheriff’s Combined Auto Theft Task Force.

These felony thefts are typically committed by repeat juvenile offenders who can be tech-savvy and are looking for a joy ride.

“It’s kids, it’s social media stuff, TikTok, 'Kia Boys' — that’s where it started at," Lopez said.

"They’re just copy-cats — 'Hey, cool stuff to do,' — ghey’ll use it, commit car burglaries with the cars or whatever, and then they just abandon them.”

He says investigators are doing their part to stop it and they’re having success.

“Task force also does proactive operations where we’ll target areas."

But drivers can do their part too. He recommends drivers check with Kia and Hyundai to see what updates are available to protect your vehicle, and also to check to see if they have steering wheel locks you can use in your vehicle.

"Utilize your garage, park another vehicle in front of it," Lopez said.

"I know it’s inconvenient but it’s gonna have to start with you.”

Investigator Lopez wants state law makers to crack down harder on teens committing these crimes.

His message for crooks is simple, “Hey we’re watching you, we’re out there and we’re going to do what we can to stop you.”

Investigator Lopez's office is in Belton — he says the task force has steering wheel locks available for Kia and Hyundai drivers.

He can be reached at Joe.Lopez@bellcounty .texas.gov or by calling 254-933-5441.