SAN ANTONIO — A local mother plans to trade in her car—if police can find it.
Cynthia Cruz's Hyundai was stolen not once, but twice out of her apartment complex. Police told her the criminals used a USB cord to start the engine.
The trick has gained attention in a viral TikTok trend that's gotten so popular that Hyundai and Kia are now offering free software upgrades to drivers.
On Wednesday night, Cruz watched criminals drive out of the Trails of Elm Creek Apartments, off Vance Jackson, in a 2016 Hyundai Sonata. She joked with her aunt, who was driving her back to the complex at the time, that it looked just like her car.
At this point, Cruz says she's not just planning to trade in her car. She's also planning to move.
"I am still in shock," she said. "I couldn't believe it happened again."
Cruz said she just caught up on her bills. She was out hundreds of dollars after her car was stolen in October.
"They broke the ignition," she explained. "They started it with a USB cord, which is the TikTok that everybody's talking about."
Her car was found two weeks later down the street at the Vista at Vance Jackson complex.
"There were other vehicles that were stolen as well," she recalled. "When they found my car and were doing the fingerprints, the USB cord was still in the cup holder. It was in the car, the one that they used."
Police took fingerprints.
Cruz says she was given the option to drive off or send the car to the dealer to get the ignition repaired.
She said she had no other choice but to pay an $800 deductible to fix her car. She added that her insurance also went up due to the incident.
"Everything was out of my pocket. I'm a single mom. I work two jobs to provide for myself and my kids. That didn't help," said Cruz. "That was not easy. I didn't do it on my own. Someone actually helped me."
Cruz bought a security camera and a steering wheel lock. Even with her extra efforts, her car was stolen again.
"I'm just here minding my business, trying to make a living for me and my kids. Then I have to go through this again," she said. "A nightmare all over again."
Millions of Hyundai drivers can get free software upgrades now at the dealership to help prevent these thefts. The upgraded alarm will sound for a full minute instead of 30 seconds. Additionally, the key will have to physically be in the ignition for the car to start.
Hyundai said they're providing local law enforcement with free steering wheel locks to give to drivers who own or lease the affected vehicles. To learn which models are eligible, click here.
The Trails of Elm Creek Apartments has a security gate, but residents tell us it's open most of the time.
Cruz says the complex also has a security guard, but she doesn't see them too often. She plans to pick up her rental car Friday.
"I just can't. I can't afford to be paying out of my pocket for something somebody else is doing," she said.
We left a message with the Lincoln Property Company, which owns the complex, to ask about any further security measures they're taking in response to these thefts. We are still waiting to hear back.
No arrests have been made in this case.
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