LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – As Las Vegas Metropolitan police balance an uncommon trend of decreasing violent crime and increasing auto thefts, a Las Vegas business is hoping to deter car thieves by the hundreds.
Most recently, a 64-year-old bicyclist died from a hit-and-run crash Monday morning where a juvenile is accused of driving a stolen Hyundai.
Not even two weeks earlier, a red Kia Soul was found split in half after a crash, where North Las Vegas Police said three of the five young teens inside the reported stolen car died.
Nationally, a TikTok and social media trend encourages viewers to steal certain Hyundai and Kia models that lack anti-theft devices.
Franne Bracy-Stringfellow, a Hyundai owner herself, has followed these stories closely over the past several months.
For years, she said she’s used her car to get to multiple volunteer commitments.
But, what she’s recently and unwillingly volunteered for now is her piece of mind.
“I’m a senior citizen. I live on minimum retirement and social security,” Bracy-Stringfellow said in Downtown Las Vegas Thursday, standing in front of her car. “Walking out of your house in the morning, thinking you’re going to work, or you got a doctor’s appointment or something like that, and your car’s gone.”
David Kohlmeier, director of operations for the Heidari Law Group and former Henderson police officer, acknowledged that while advancing car technology is making it easier for law enforcement to trace the thieves, it does little to prevent the theft amongst targeted models.
“There’s a reform that’s taking place. It’s not worth chasing the bad guy of a stolen car,” Kohlmeier said inside his downtown Las Vegas office Thursday morning. “It is a difficult situation for law enforcement these days because they don’t want anyone to get hurt (during a pursuit).”
Las Vegas Metro police reported a large auto-theft increase in western portions of the valley compared to this time last year: 92.5% in the Northwest Area Command and 83.6% in the Summerlin Area Command.
Across all jurisdictions, the increase is 41% more than in 2022.
North Las Vegas Police, through the end of July, reported 293 stolen Kias and 53 stolen Hyundais in 2023.
“When they’re speeding away and they hit somebody and they cause death, that’s where Sam Ryan Heidari with the Heidari Law Group wanted to prevent that stuff,” Kohlmeier said.
To aid in the prevention, the law group purchased 100 steering wheel car locks to give away to Kia and Hyundai owners.
By mid-day Thursday, already half of the inventory was donated, prompting the purchase of 100 more for donation in the coming days.
The Clark County Sheriff acknowledges this is one of the only effective methods to protect these car owners.
“We actually were able to get a device a little bit different, where it basically goes down to the brake pedal and into the steering column, because, in the past, people would cut off the steering column and then remove the club device,” Kohlmeier said.
He added that Kia and Hyundai owners may walk into their downtown Las Vegas office during business hours to retrieve a wheel lock as long as supplies last.
A representative for State Farm told 8 News Now in a statement that the company has “stopped accepting new customer applications in some states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles because theft losses for these vehicles have increased dramatically.”
A representative for AAA added that increases in auto and catalytic convertor thefts also impact how high insurance premiums are for any one area, along with accident frequency, fatality or injury frequency, and supply-chain issues.