Auto shops backed up as stolen car trend skyrockets in greater Cleveland

Jerry Knapp, Jr. (right) and an unidentified worker at Knapp's Madison Auto and Towing in...
Jerry Knapp, Jr. (right) and an unidentified worker at Knapp's Madison Auto and Towing in Lakewood look over a steering column.(WOIO)
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:18 PM EST
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LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) - At Knapp’s Madison Auto and Towing in Lakewood, owner Jerry Knapp, Jr. is trying to keep up with the demand to repair recently recovered stolen cars, which has proven to be a challenge.

“We’re seeing they knock out the passenger rear window, and then rip apart the steering column,” Knapp told 19 News.

It would seem repairing those parts of the vehicles would be a breeze, but Knapp said some customers have been waiting about a month to get their car back from the shop.

“The problem we’re seeing is these windows are on national back order. I’ve been waiting on one for a month now. They cut off the catalytic converter as well, so those are on national backorder because of that,” he said.

Knapp estimated that he takes two or three calls each week from customers needing repairs to their cars after they’ve been stolen.

“I’m having a real tough time getting these parts,” he said. “We’re just waiting on getting them all together to fix the car.”

In some cases, he’s able to find key vehicle parts in junkyards.

Knapp showed 19 News a steering column he recently picked up, it was salvaged from a newer vehicle that was involved in an accident.

“We’ll pull that steering column off because that one was in an accident. That’s why we were able to get it. You’re typically not going to find a 2019 or 2020 vehicle in a junkyard unless it was damaged like that,” he said.

He told 19 News a simple repair to a steering column cover can cost anywhere from $500 to $600.

Multiple police agencies are also giving away anti-theft devices to Kia and Hyundai owners; including, Strongsville, Willoughby, Willowick, Fairview Park, and Mentor-on-the-Lake.

Hyundai has previously released the below statement regarding the large number of Hyundais stolen nationwide.

“Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit that targets the method of entry used by thieves to break into these vehicles. These kits are available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. The MSRP for the kit is $170, and the estimated cost for installation may vary by location.

“Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles. We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates for other vehicles following thereafter. Please note that all Hyundai vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Some earlier models, without a push-button ignition, do not have engine immobilizers. In November 2021, engine immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced. Customers who have questions can contact the Hyundai Customer Care Center at 800-633-5151.”

Kia has released the below statement to Kia owners regarding vehicle thefts.

“Kia also continues its efforts to develop additional solutions for vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer, including the development and testing of enhanced security software. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Kia Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia).”