Kia, Hyundais are easy targets for thieves, insurance data confirms

In fact, 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are about twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of the same age. The reason is many these vehicles lack some basic auto theft prevention technology included in most other vehicles, even in these years, according to HLDI.

These models do not have electronic immobilizers that rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key communicating to verify that the key is authentic and truly belongs to that vehicle. Without the correct key, an immobilizer should do just that – stop the car from moving.

Immobilizers were standard equipment on 96% of vehicles sold for the 2015-2019 model years, according to HLDI, but were standard on only 26% of Hyundais and Kias. Vehicles that have push-button start systems, rather than relying on metal keys that must be inserted and turned, have immobilizers, but not all models with turnkey ignitions do.

Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but Hyundai Motor Group owns a large stake in Kia and various Hyundai and Kia models share much of their engineering.

The car theft trend spread widely on social media last year, according to HLDI. In Wisconsin, where it first became popular, theft claims on Hyundais and Kias rose to more than 30 times the 201[ads1]9 dollar level.

Some videos posted on TikTok allegedly showed stolen Hyundai and Kia vehicles being driven recklessly and even crashed. “TikTok does not condone this behavior that violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson said recently.

The theft method, which involves serious damage to the ignition system, indicates that these cars are being stolen for fun rather than for resale, according to HLDI.

“When you forcibly break the ignition, you cause so much damage that it’s not easy to re-VIN and resell the vehicle on the open market,” Darrell Russell, a former auto theft investigator who is now director of operations at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said in a statement. To re-VIN a vehicle means to change or replace the vehicle identification number, an identification code made of 17 letters and numbers, to make the vehicle more difficult to track.

HLDI’s theft rate estimates are based on the number of a given model on the road and the frequency of vehicle theft damage. Some vehicles are stolen very often, simply because so many have been sold, and therefore there are simply too many of them on the roads to steal.

However, when it comes to these Hyundai and Kia models, the theft rates are way out of proportion to the number on the road.

Vehicles manufactured after November 1, 2021 and those with push-button start cannot be stolen this way, Hyundai spokesman Ira Gabriel said. Electronic immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai cars, including those with key ignitions, after that date.

Also for those with older vehicles that do not have immobilizers, Hyundai has identified a kit that can be installed to prevent this type of theft. Starting October 1, the safety kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealers and authorized installers, the automaker said in a statement.

Kia pointed out that the majority of Kia vehicles in the United States have push-button start systems that make theft more difficult. The NICB advises owners who are concerned that their vehicle may be a target for theft to take simple steps such as always locking the doors and parking in well-lit areas. Beyond that, owners can also use aftermarket anti-theft devices such as supplemental alarm systems, steering wheel and pedal locks and kill switches.

Among newer vehicles, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a large sedan with a supercharged V8 capable of producing more than 700 horsepower, was most popular among thieves relative to the number on the road, according to HLDI. Dodge cars are made by the global car company Stellanits.

“All Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed applicable federal safety and security standards. We use industry-standard technologies, including immobilizer capabilities, across our North American vehicle lineup,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Despite this, we urge all motorists to take care in securing their vehicles.”

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

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