AUSTIN (KXAN) — Danielle Paez wanted to sleep in on Saturday morning.

“We were woken up very early by neighbor, and we thought who wakes someone up at this hour,” she said. “And it was our very kind neighbor waking us up to tell us my boyfriend’s car had been broken into, and mine just vanished. Just glass, that’s it, that’s all that was left of my car.”

After Paez reported her stolen 2019 Kia Soul to police, she said she realized she had a tool of her own to figure out where her car was: a mile tracker she uses as part of her insurance, which gave her a play-by-play of the car’s whereabouts right on her phone.

Danielle Paez said her Kia was stolen.
Danielle Paez said she worked to make her rage “productive” when she found out her car was stolen.

“I created a timeline, I managed to track down every second he turned off and on my car, every visit he made, she said. “Find the booger face. Find him.”

The Austin Police Department said information like this could help, but there’s no guarantee it can lead to an arrest. Officers also do not recommend trying to recover your stolen vehicle on your own, because whoever stole it could be dangerous.

Officers ended up finding her car in Pflugerville, Paez said. She went to a tow yard Tuesday afternoon to clean it out, where she found it with smashed window, a broken mirror and a mangled ignition switch.

“Pure fury and fire,” Paez said. “Stop messing people who just want to sleep in on a Saturday, man.”

Police are still investigating the theft.

Photos inside stolen Kia
Photos from inside stolen Kia after authorities found the vehicle in Pflugerville.

Car thefts up in Austin

According to an APD report, car thefts are up 28% compared to this time last year.

“I know there was a social media challenge about stealing Kia’s,” said Paez, who told KXAN police told her how common Kia thefts have been lately.

When APD addressed the trend earlier this year, the department shared the following ways for people to better protect their property:

  • Buy a locking bar and place it on your steering wheel.
  • Conceal a tracking device in the vehicle, like an Apple AirTag.
  • Install a working alarm system.