The “Kia boy” phenomenon, in which car thieves take advantage of design flaws that let them steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles by peeling the steering columns and starting the engines with a standard USB plug instead of a key, keeps driving up auto theft reports in Chicago and across the country.
But an 18-year-old Chicago man had the unusual experience this weekend of being charged with driving a stolen Kia less than a month after he was charged with driving a stolen Hyundai.
Prosecutors said the steering columns were ripped open on both cars, and both vehicles had broken windows.
Chicago police first arrested Corey D. Williams on September 10 after they received a call about suspicious men at a West Side gas station and found him standing next to a Hyundai, prosecutors said.
Williams walked away from the car slowly as police arrived, but they stopped him and found surveillance video that showed him driving the car to the service station, according to the allegations. The vehicle had been reported stolen.
Judge Barabara Dawkins allowed Williams to go home by posting a $300 deposit toward bail on a felony charge of possessing a stolen motor vehicle.
Another stolen car, which was parked next to the Hyundai at the gas station, had a broken window, a stripped steering column, and a broken ignition, but no one was accused of possessing it.
On Friday, officers were on patrol in an area “known for multiple recently stolen vehicles,” prosecutor Nicole Murphy said as Williams appeared in felony bond court again.
The cops saw a Kia Sportage with a broken back window. Williams was in the driver’s seat, Murphy said. As officers approached the Kia, they noticed the steering column was stripped. And the car was listed as stolen.
Prosecutors charged Williams with another count of possessing a stolen motor vehicle for the Kia allegations.
Judge Maryam Ahmad held him without bail for violating bond conditions in the Hyundai case. She ordered him to pay a $1,000 deposit toward bail on the new charges.
Williams is a high school senior with no criminal background, his defense attorneys said during his bail hearings.
During July, 642 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in Cook County, up from 74 such thefts during the same month last year, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said. In August, lawyers in Iowa filed a federal class action suit against Kia and Hyundai on behalf of car owners whose vehicles are affected by the defect.
In Chicago alone, motor vehicle thefts are up 74% compared to last year and up 70% compared to 2018, according to CPD records.