MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new crime trend involving Kias and Hyundais is gaining popularity among Memphis car thieves. The trend has landed one Memphis man behind bars.
From June 28 to July 25, police say Tre’Veon Culbreath managed to steal six vehicles—three Kias and three Hyundais.
Police observed Culbreath, 19, in one of the Kias stopped in the road on July 6 and attempted to pull him over but the suspect refused to stop. Police say as Culbreath struck one of the officers’ squad car as he fled the scene.
Culbreath was arrested while leaving the Corning Village apartment complex Monday.
“I just seen the increase of the cars in the lots over there,” Tyler said.
Michael Tyler is one of many residents at Corning Village apartments in Frayser who noticed an increase in what appeared to be abandoned vehicles in the back of the complex.
Memphis police say stealing Kias and Hyundais made before 2021 is the latest trend among car thieves. MPD stated in a video that the car’s steering column can be vandalized and manipulated to start the engine.
Memphis isn’t the only city seeing this problem. Law enforcement agencies nationwide are reporting similar increases—citing a design flaw in the vehicles.
Tom Martin, owner of Tom Martin’s Body Shop in Downtown Memphis, says he’s become very familiar with the damages thieves leave behind.
“People feel so violated when something like this happens. You walk out to get in your car and it’s gone,” Martin said.
He says he’s seen a slight increase in stolen Kias and Hyundais coming in for repairs, which can take up to a month to complete due to a shortage of parts and can cost upwards of $2,000.
He suggests owners invest in a steering wheel lock and a loud car alarm to deter criminals.
Police say out of the six vehicles Culbreath is accused of stealing, four have been recovered.
As for Culbreath, he faces several charges including theft, evading arrest, and reckless driving.
Culbreath is held on a $28,000 bond.