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Kia owner has vehicle stolen twice, uses tracker to find it herself

<i>KCNC</i><br/>Kristie Houchen used a tracking app to locate her stolen Kia Sportage.
Kristie Houchen used a tracking app to locate her stolen Kia Sportage.

By Karen Morfitt

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    Colorado (KCNC) — As Kia and Hyundai now top the list of stolen vehicles in Colorado, some owners are falling victim more than once.

Kristie Houchen says it happened to her.

“Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it did,” she said.

Houchen first spoke with CBS News Colorado about her stolen Kia Sportage in July, raising concerns about an online trend showing how easy the cars were to start without a key.

It was recovered at the end of August and was stolen again just last week.

“Not even two months later,” she said.

“I left work early I was going to pay my car payment at the bank, and I walked outside and, same thing as last time, I’m pushing the button and I don’t hear it,” she says.

But this time Houchen had put an Apple Air Tag inside just in case.

After her initial call to 911 reporting the vehicle stolen, she starts tracking her family’s car and finds it about a mile away.

She calls 911 again to report the address and is told not to intervene.

“They took all my information again, sat there for about an hour, nobody showed up, called again, same thing; informational. They said they would send a squad car. Sat there for another hour, called again this happened three separate times,” she said.

After three hours she went home and woke up to a voicemail the next morning.

“If you would still like to make that report for the motor vehicle theft, please call us back,” the caller says.

“I assumed that when I called in and said, ‘hey my car was stolen,’ that was me filing a report,” she said.

Houchen then filed an official report and continued to track her vehicle and report its location to police.

“I was frustrated because obviously, I want to follow the police order and I don’t want to get hurt but at the same time my car is right there and I can’t even do anything,” I felt like nobody was listening to me,” she said.

“What could have happened there is the reporting, right? This person may have assumed that because she called 911 that the dispatcher entered it as stolen it must be entered by a law enforcement officer,” said Aurora Police spokesperson Matthew Longshore.

He says a delay in response often comes down to call load.

“We have to prioritize our calls as they come in if we have an active call like domestic violence or fight those calls are going to take priority to property type calls – theft and stolen vehicle recovery,” he said.

Longshore says they have however seen more trackers and agree they can be helpful.

“It might help with recovery, depending on how quickly someone can get out there we may be able to catch the people that are responsible,” he said.

Houchen understands her call may have been low on the list and while she feels like an opportunity was missed to catch a criminal, she worries more about if it happens again.

“I think that it could create a serious problem that could turn into a violent crime,” she said.

The day the official report was made, and after Houchen called to report the new location of her vehicle, officers did recover her car. But she says she only knows that it’s now at the impound because of the tracker.

A week since that report was made and she has yet to talk with an officer.

It remains in an impound lot while she waits for her insurance adjuster, which she says will be yet another expense for her and her family.

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