Local woman says car was stolen despite software update designed to prevent thefts

PITTSBURGH — Colleen Black only had her Kia for one month, when thieves were able to hack into the USB system and steal her car, despite a security fix offered by the manufacturer.

“My world turned upside down because I looked out my door and my car was gone.”

Black says that anti-theft device didn’t work. Police would later find her stolen car dumped at a downtown hotel with the ignition torn apart. The car was badly damaged. The paint swiped off, the hood and roof dented in. Black took the Kia back to the dealership to get the anti-theft device checked.

“They told me the same thing I thought,” Black said. “That it does work. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t work.”

She says Kia told her she probably didn’t lock her doors, something she’s adamant she did.

“It was a slap in the face,” Black said. “I know me and my husband and we live in a neighborhood where you just don’t leave your car unlocked. Period.”

Kia also indicated to Black that if the car was stolen, the alarm would have gone off. But the car was parked right outside of Black’s bedroom window.

“I would have heard it,” Black added. “My dogs didn’t even bark. That’s how quickly and quietly the thieves were able to do this.”

The Pittsburgh police auto squad provided statistics on stolen Kias and Hyundais, the two manufacturers thieves are targeting using USB cables, as seen in viral videos. In the first right months of 2023, 460 cars were stolen in the city. 124 of those cars, 27%, were Kias or Hyundais.

So what can you do? Pittsburgh police offered some common sense advice:

  • Park in well lit areas
  • Use surveillance cameras
  • Use old school steering wheel clubs

Colleen Black says she installed one of those steering wheel clubs the minute she got her car back.

“That thing was $38 and it’s been around 20 years,” Black said.

She says she simply wants other people to know security fix or not, their cars are vulnerable and you need to find multiple ways to secure them.

We reached out to the dealership where the car was purchased, but we didn’t hear back.

A spokesperson for Kia USA tells 11 Investigates:

“We remain confident the software upgrade we developed works to combat the method of theft popularized on social media and further enhance the vehicle’s security by restricting the operation of the ignition system while the vehicle is locked and the alarm system is armed.”

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