San Antonio Hyundai car owners finding ‘peace of mind’ at anti-theft event

SAN ANTONIO – Some car owners who have been eager for a certain kind of help seem to be finding it at a weekend-long event put on by the Hyundai car company and San Antonio police.

All of the owners drive Hyundai cars, one of two brands that were the recent subjects of social media videos, offering thieves how-to instructions for stealing them. The other company is Kia.

San Antonio police, Hyundai hosting anti-theft software clinic this weekend for Hyundai vehicle owners

Hyundai began offering software updates in February 2023.

More recently, the company has been reaching out to owners through events like the one being held in San Antonio.

This is the company’s 25th such event, according to Dave Vandelinde, vice president of Hyundai America.

“That software update specifically addresses the type of theft that was popularized on TikTok,” he said.

Vandelinde said the vehicles most in need of the update include all 2011-2021 models with key ignitions, as opposed to those with push button starts.

Friday morning, despite a sudden rainstorm, drivers began lining up for the free service in the parking lot of Gustafson Stadium, near Loop 410 and Culebra Road.

The cars then made their way to a small white tent that served as the check-in station.

“We’ll put a little colored tag on the windshield,” said Vanderlinde, explaining the process. “Then that tells the technician here in the tent what level of software the vehicle needs.”

Once checked in, car owners are able to relax in yet another tent that serves as the waiting area.

Meanwhile, their vehicles are turned over to a team of technicians, who are armed with electronic tablets and a small Wi-Fi-equipped device for downloading software.

The software upgrading process takes less than 15 minutes. Vanderlinde said most drivers are in and out of the event in about half an hour.

Raul Esparza, Jr. brought his parents and their Hyundai to the event with the hope of safeguarding their car against thieves.

“People breaking in, vandalizing your car or stealing it — to me, as an American, that’s wrong,” Esparza said.

While his parents usually park their car inside a locked area at home, Esparza is concerned about what could happen elsewhere.

KSAT 12 News obtained SAPD figures through an open records request.

They show Hyundai cars, along with Kias, accounted for nearly half of the 18,000 vehicles stolen in San Antonio within the last 12 months.

Gerald Alcoses said his daughter’s Hyundai was stolen twice.

“My daughter’s going to go to work, you know, taking the kids to school, and there’s no car, just glass on the ground,” he said. “To get it back on the road, we had to invest money into the car, buying new tires and rims.”

Alcoses, who now is buying the car from his daughter, said he would like a way to recoup the money they’ve spent on recovering and repairing the vehicle. However, he said he is grateful for what Hyundai is doing to improve security.

In addition to the software upgrades, the company is giving the car owners free steering wheel locks.

“I will definitely say that (my parents) will have peace of mind,” Esparza said.

The software update event is being held at Gustafson Stadium, 7001 Culebra Road, all weekend.

The hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

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