Kia car vandals hit southwest Omaha senior living facility

Breaking into Kia vehicles has become a criminal trend across the country. A senior citizen in Omaha recently became one of the targets.
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 10:38 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s well-known that vandals and car thieves are targeting Kia vehicles, but where they’ve been hitting is causing frustration and concern in southwest Omaha.

She’s 90 years old, but Julee Janca likes to drive a Kia Sportage.

“I’ve got a license for five more years, so I think I’m still good and capable to drive,” Julee said.

But vandals have temporarily taken away that privilege by smashing a side window and then ripping apart her Kia’s ignition.

Though unsuccessful at stealing the car, the would-be thieves left Julee afraid to drive it with a damaged ignition.

“I mean, we’re seniors, we’re old people,” Julee said. “These people are just vandals. They don’t have anything else to do. What would their grandpa and grandma say?”

Julee’s daughter Cheryl says this is the second time in as many months that her mom’s Kia has been a target.

“It just breaks my heart,” Cheryl said.

The Jancas and some other residents tell 6 News that about half a dozen cars, mostly Kias, have been broken into while sitting in the parking lot of the 55-and-over living community where Julee resides.

Jeanine Gudenrath, Julee’s 75-year-old neighbor, spotted the damage and told her.

“We can’t afford high rent, so that’s why we live here,” Jeanine said. “Just because it says ‘Millard Senior Residences’ doesn’t mean you can come in and help yourself and hurt us.”

Both residents say more protection is needed for the parking lot.

“[It should have] motion detectors on the lights and cameras, for sure,” Jeanine said.

Millard Senior Residences says they take the issue seriously and asked for increased patrols by law enforcement. Management also says it’s ensured that all security and lighting systems are operational while striving to provide a safe and secure home for residents.

But Julee says locked doors for the building don’t make her feel secure in the parking lot.

“I’d like to see somebody protect my car,” Julee said. “How? That’s for them to figure out.

Julee says she has insurance with a $500 deductible and she’s on a fixed income. If the Kia can be repaired, she worries about parking in the same lot again.

The independent living facility has 16 garages, but with more than 40 occupied apartments, there is a waiting list.