ODU Experiences a 300% Surge in Car Thefts and Larcenies



An Old Dominion University Police vehicle. Photo by Nicholas Clark

By Will Witt, News Editor

In the past three months, the ODU campus has seen 30 vehicle related larcenies and 6 stolen vehicles – a drastic surge compared to the zero that occurred last year during this time


What started out as a challenge on TikTok has found its way to campus. The challenge of stealing Hyundai and Kia vehicles by hot wiring them with a USB cord has reached over 33 million views.


ODU’s crime log reports 30 motor vehicle related larcenies from Sept. 14 to Nov. 13. Within this are 6 vehicle thefts, 18 counts of larceny pertaining to a motor vehicle (theft of either motor vehicle parts or accessories), and 6 counts of tampering with a vehicle. The majority of November break-ins occurred near student housing in Village Lot 2 between the hours of 2:00 AM and 8:30 AM


Flaws in the ignition systems of 2010-2021 Kia and Hyundai models are being exploited. A theft can take place quickly – in under 30 seconds. Hyundai has begun selling a kit that will fix this flaw. However, after the purchase of a vehicle, having to purchase more add-ons to remedy a design flaw is mildly infuriating. 


Interim Chief of Police Garrett Shelton said that “[ODU Police] would ask vehicle owners to take steps to make the theft of these types of vehicles less likely”. These steps include removing all USB charging cables from the vehicle and installing a wheel locking device.


This trend finds itself atop a pile of existing parking frustrations. For one semester, commuting students must pay $136, or about $9 a week. Faculty must purchase a $576 parking pass for the full academic year. The purchase of these passes may be justified by the peace of mind from knowing that once class is over your vehicle will be there waiting (hopefully with no parking tickets). This peace of mind has now been lost. 


For further tips on protecting your vehicle, ODU Police recommend visiting the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.