Rising Car Theft in Baton Rouge Highlights the Need for Increased Vehicle Security Measures

July 9, 2024
3 min read
Outside view of the car dealership., image

Rising Car Theft in Baton Rouge Highlights the Need for Increased Vehicle Security Measures

Baton Rouge recently witnessed a series of vehicle burglaries that have once again brought the issue of car theft into the spotlight. On June 17, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of 16 vehicles being burglarized at a Kia store on Siegen Lane. These vehicles, left by customers for servicing, became targets in an incident that occurred without any surveillance footage to identify the perpetrators.

The unfortunate event was relayed over the police scanner: “Kia vehicle burglary at [redacted]. It’s going to be 16 vehicles. They’re advising that it’s vehicles that customers left to be serviced.” Despite the alarming number of affected vehicles, authorities reported that nothing was stolen from them.

In response, Kia's corporate office reiterated their commitment to supporting law enforcement and enhancing vehicle security measures. “Kia will continue to work with law enforcement agencies nationwide to combat car theft… We remain fully committed to supporting our customers,” said James Bell, Kia America’s head of Corporate Communications.

Kia has been proactive in addressing the rising theft of their vehicles. National data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau indicates that four Kia models were among the top 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in 2023. In Louisiana, the Optima, Soul, and Forte were notably targeted. In response, Kia America initiated several measures last year, including free software security upgrades, steering wheel locks, and hardware modifications to deter theft.

To further aid affected vehicle owners, Kia has been offering free steering wheel locks. These locks serve as a physical barrier, preventing the steering wheel from turning and thereby deterring potential thieves. Kia owners can request these locks online, an important step in enhancing their vehicle's security.

The impact of car theft is not just a matter of statistics; it deeply affects the lives of individuals. Nkechi Chibueze, a resident of Spanish Town, recounted her own experience with car theft. Her vehicle was stolen last April from outside her apartment complex in Mid City. Despite the car’s age, the incident came as a surprise and has since changed her approach to vehicle security. Chibueze now uses a steering wheel club to prevent theft and advises other drivers to have a security plan in place.

“This stops the wheel from being able to turn,” Chibueze explained. “As extra measures, we have a club that we put on the steering wheel just to make it slower for people to break in.” She emphasized the importance of being prepared, sharing that the lack of a plan left her disoriented after the theft. “When I had my car stolen last year I didn’t really have any plan in place. It took me a while to get situated. Have backups in place,” she advised.

It appears with this incident, there was no mention of the customer’s keys being controlled or not in a key management system

The recent burglaries at this dealership and the stories of affected individuals like Chibueze underscore the need for robust vehicle security measures. As car theft continues to be a significant issue, both automakers and car owners must stay vigilant and take proactive steps to safeguard their vehicles. Whether through advanced security systems provided by manufacturers or simple deterrents like steering wheel locks, every measure counts in the fight against car theft.

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