Another tool for Kia and Hyundai owners targeted by thieves

There’s been a lot of interest in a new Minneapolis company founded on its solution for recovering cars once they’ve been stolen. 

FOX 9 has been reporting for months the rash of car thefts in the Twin Cities and across the nation, largely driven by Kia and Hyundai vehicles being easy to steal.

When Lacey Gauthier sees a problem, her goal is to fix it.

"My daughter she comes to me with an idea, and I just go running," Gauthier said.

Back in August, her teenage daughter saw a way to help amid the skyrocketing car thefts. They knew people targeted in their Longfellow-Nokomis neighborhood.

"I heard just heartbreaking stories," she explained.

State officials recently announced it launched a civil investigation into Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which stemmed from how easy they are to steal. The Twin Cities mayors also urged the two automakers to issue a recall after 3,300 vehicles were stolen last year alone.

"We just want people to feel a little bit safer when they go to bed tonight," Gauthier said.

Gauthier’s new startup TC Nighthawks – named for Twin Cities and a nighthawk bird, which "watches over you" – sells tags with built-in GPS tracking software. She initially ordered 200 tiles but said the interest has far exceeded that. The first set of devices is set to be delivered to customers this week.

So how does it work? Customers hide a tag in their car. If a customer’s vehicle gets stolen, they call 911 and provide the law enforcement case number to the company. Within minutes, dispatchers from TC Nighthawks can send the location information to law enforcement.

"We screen-share. So we will have a dispatcher watching it from the minute it is taken until the minute it's recovered," Gauthier said.

She also wants to tackle the thefts and carjackings from the systemic side. Recognizing that the thieves are typically teenagers, the company has launched multiple youth programs.

"A lot of youth they just have a lot of biased concepts and ideologies just about life because they obviously are in hard situations," said Floyd Hodges, the youth services director for TC Nighthawks.

Hodges will run the programs. As a local boxer, he recognizes how influential sports can be in a young person's life.

"Getting into kickboxing when I did I would say, saved me actually," Hodges said. "Because I got involved with kickboxing, it gave me something to look forward to, aspirations and goals that way."

TC Nighthawks’ team is made up of around 30 members, including a drone operator. Gauthier said starting May 1, the company plans to have representatives at every court hearing involving carjackings or stolen cars, whether or not their customers are involved in the case.

"We believe that we need to make a public presence in the courtroom. We have to let the judges and the court staff know that," she said.