BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County’s car theft epidemic continues unabated Wednesday and cars made by Kia and Hyundai are prime targets.

Hundreds have been stolen so far this year in Bakersfield alone, including a half dozen car thefts Tuesday.

Now standing at 347 Hyundais and 235 Kias stolen this year in the City of Bakersfield alone.
Kias and Hyundais are still the hottest cars for theft in Bakersfield.

“There has been an increase in Kias and Hyundais being stolen,” said Detective Aaron Watkin with Bakersfield Police Department.

These are older models. New Kias and Hyundais have improved security and are not especially vulnerable to theft.

In the latest reports in just 24 hours owners shared on social media their older Hyundais or Kias had been stolen; And no end in sight for these thefts.

“With these types of cars it’s not, per say, these cars are taken to be sold or they’re at chop shops,” said Watkin, “We typically see if these cars are stolen they are just abandoned in several areas of the city. It’s not really a specific area.”

On Halloween a video seemingly showed two Kias were seen speeding at Roberts Lane and Oildale Drive, followed by patrol vehicles.

“We have seen minors, underage kids that do not have licenses are being typically contacted in these cars and arrested,” Watkin said.

A recall is in place for older models of Hyundais and Kias to get anti-theft software updates. Aside from the recall, police recommend you turn to additional safety measures.

One of them is the traditional steering wheel lock.

“After-market alarm systems on your vehicles. If you can put a club on your car, you want to make that car as hard as you can for someone not to come in and steal it,” said Watkin, “Park your car in a place where there’s lighting. Suspects like to be in places where it’s dark, where they typically won’t be seen.

If you are a victim of this crime, and have surveillance video police ask you to share it with them to help the investigation.

As colder temperatures are here police ask you to not start your car and leave it unattended while it warms up.