Woman's car stolen with her kids' Christmas presents inside trunk

NOW: Woman’s car stolen with her kids’ Christmas presents inside trunk

SOUTH BEND, IND., --- A South Bend woman is the latest victim of the viral trend of stealing newer model Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Her car full of Christmas presents for her kids was stolen right in front of her house just days before the holidays.

Although Lisa Cornell was able to get her stolen car back, the mother of three said thieves took a lot more from her and young sons right before Christmas.

“They didn’t take any money or anything like that but they took Christmas,” said Cornell.

Cornell is now trying to replace Christmas gifts for her three little boys after her car with a trunk-load of presents was stolen right in front of her house about a week before the holidays.

 “We were doing what we could and the toys that they took we had just gotten from Toys for Tots. It wasn’t even like we went out and bought them, we just got them because we couldn’t afford to buy them. So, I mean it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Anything that was of importance was in that car for the night to take it to my sisters the next morning and wrap everything.”

Cornell’s Ring doorbell camera captured video of three people appearing to break into her 2018 Hyundai Sonata in the middle of the night on Friday on Leer street in South Bend.

“You heard the window break and after that it cut off it didn’t catch them driving off…and now I can’t even park my car in front of my house without fear that it's going to get jacked again,” explained Cornell.

Cornell’s stolen car was recovered in Benton Harbor on Monday without her Christmas presents in it.

Her back window also left busted with shattered glass in the snow and on her back seat.

Her ignition was ripped apart, a method she recently learned about through a viral TikTok video that shows people how to start newer models of Hyundai and Kia vehicles without the key, leading to a spree of stolen cars across the country and here at home.

“It took some time for the video to spread, and it unfortunately it did hit our area this summer where we started noticing an uptick in Kia and Hyundai thefts,” explained Ashley O’Chap, the Media Liaison for the South Bend Police Department. “We kept our eye on it from July through now and last week we saw another increase.”

O’Chap said they’re echoing warnings to Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners after another round of thefts in recent weeks.

“You can go to your auto parts store or even amazon, most stores have a steering wheel lock. It's a physical tool that you can put on your steering wheel. So even if someone does get in your vehicle and start it, they’re not going to be anywhere without using the steering wheel,” added O’Chap.

She not only urged those car owners to take extra precautions, but also reminded everyone to be vigilant about their valuables especially during the holidays.

“Thieves know that, and they know this is a good time to start scanning parking lots, start scanning city streets where cars are parked so we really encourage you not to do that. If you need to hide your gifts somewhere think about doing it may be at work, or at a relative's house where you know it will be safe until Christmas,” she said.

Since the theft, Cornell said she’s gotten a steering wheel lock to protect her car and has taken other measures to protect her things.

Although she said she learned a valuable lesson following the incident, she added she was most grateful for the support that came after.

“I spent my entire weekend breaking down because we prided ourselves on giving our children what we could with all of the burdens,” explained Cornell.

“Luckily we’ve had some family members come together and they’re going to be able to get a lot of stuff together for them and I'm grateful for that.”

Cornell is still looking at thousands of dollars in damages to fix her car on top of still replacing some of those Christmas presents.

If you’d like to help you can contact her through Facebook here.

Kia and Hyundai owners can also contact their dealerships about security kits.

Share this article: