PORTLAND, Ore. — When a southwest Portland woman recently woke up to find her 2019 Kia Rio stolen outside her apartment, her first thought was that she probably wouldn't get it back.
"Everyone around me was holding out hope. I didn't think so, just because they've been getting broken into," Ellie Fisher said of her stolen car.
Fisher said her boyfriend told her on the morning of Sept. 13 that her car was missing and he'd seen broken glass on the street where it had been parked. Fisher had become the latest victim of the recent rash of thefts involving Kia and Hyundai cars, sparked by a security vulnerability in several models released in the past decade and exacerbated by a 2022 viral TikTok trend that challenged people to steal the cars.
"I've gotten letters in the mail that I needed to update my security. I was actually planning on doing it last week. Probably near the end of the week, just never got around to it," Fisher said.
Fisher and her boyfriend called Portland police to report the car stolen, then settled in to wait. News came faster than expected; within a few hours after reporting it stolen, a security guard at the Clackamas Town Center had found her car.
"When I got the call it was pretty surprising, especially so soon," she said.
Fisher and her boyfriend drove the 10 miles from her apartment in southwest Portland to the mall.
"The ignition's torn apart. One of the windows is broken," she said. "There's a bit of damage on the outside, there's a few dents, a few scratches and then everything inside was taken."
Fisher said the thieves apparently also took the car on a much longer joyride than the relatively short distance to the mall — they put about 300 more miles on the car's odometer.
"I hope they had fun!" Fisher said, laughing.
Inside the car was another surprise: alongside a box of empty White Claw cans in the backseat were two Polaroid photos taken from inside Fisher's car using a Polaroid camera that had been inside a bag in her trunk, along with other camera equipment. Fisher said she thinks the people in the photos had something to do with the theft.
"They obviously pulled it out. If I remember correctly, it had four pictures on it. So they obviously took two and took them," Fisher said. "The officer said we don't catch the smart ones! So, that's kind of been my thought process. They were obviously in the excitement of the moment, I guess."
She's able to laugh about it, but at the same time she said she feels violated and upset about the whole situation.
"Really frustrating. I feel everything's replaceable. Everything's fixable. The biggest feeling I feel is violation. I don't know if I want my car anymore, just knowing that someone ransacked it, went through it took all my personal belongings," she said.
Fisher is still waiting to get her car inside a repair shop, but said they're are backed up by a few weeks. Portland Police are investigating the case, and have the photos as evidence.