Kia and Hyundai 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 a lot of these vehicles lack basic auto theft prevention technology included in most other vehicles even in those years, according to the HLDI.

These models do not have electronic immobilizers which rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key that communicate to confirm that the key is genuine and really belongs to that vehicle. Without the correct key, an immobilizer would have to do just that – stop the car from moving.

Immobilizers were standard equipment in 96% of vehicles sold for model years 2015-2019, according to HLDI, but were standard on only 26% of Hyundais and Kias. Vehicles with 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.

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

The car theft trend has spread widely on social media over the past year, according to HLDI. In Wisconsin, where it first became popular, Hyundai and Kia theft claims have reached more than 30 times 2019 dollar levels.

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

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

“When you forcibly cut the ignition, you cause so much damage that it’s not easy to re-VIN and resell the vehicle on the open market,” said Darrell Russell, a former theft investigator. automobiles who is now director of operations at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said in a statement. Re-VIN a vehicle means changing or replacing its Vehicle Identification Number, an identification code made up of 17 letters and numbers, to make the vehicle harder to trace.

HLDI estimates of theft frequency are based on the number of a given model on the road and the frequency of vehicle theft claims. Some vehicles are very often stolen simply because a large number of them have been sold and therefore there are simply plenty of them on the roads to be stolen.

In the case of these Hyundai and Kia models, however, the theft rates are far from proportional to their number on the road.

Vehicles produced after Nov. 1, 2021 and those equipped with a start button are not susceptible to theft in this way, Hyundai spokesman Ira Gabriel said. Electronic immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles, including those with keyed ignitions, after this date.

Additionally, for those with older vehicles that do not have an immobilizer, Hyundai has identified a kit that can be installed to prevent this type of theft. From October 1, the security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and authorized installers, the automaker said in a statement.

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

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

“All Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed applicable federal standards for safety and security. We use industry standard technologies, including immobilization capability, across our North American vehicle lineup,” said a spokesperson said in an email. “Nevertheless, we urge all motorists to exercise caution in securing their vehicles.”

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

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