- Across the US, a problem with some Kia and Hyundai keys is making the cars targets for thieves.
- Police say social media challenges on Tik Tok and YouTube are encouraging people to steal cars.
- Both Kia and Hyundai are aware of the problem and are offering steering locks as a solution.
Thieves are targeting Kia and Hyundai cars across the country, and law enforcement says it’s because social media challenges are pointing out a flaw in the cars.
Some Kia models built between 2011 and 2021 and some Hyundai models built between 2016 and 2021 have a key issue that makes them easy to steal.
According to The Wall Street Journal, these models are easier to steal because they use traditional keys and the cars do not have a chip that would prevent the vehicles from starting when there is no key in the car.
A press release from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office warned people about the increase in burglaries. Since July 1, the sheriff’s office has seen 642 reports of Kia and Hyundai thefts, compared to 74 a year earlier.
“The increases are believed to be related to the sharing of videos on social media demonstrating how to start these keyless vehicles,” the press release said. “Thieves seem to target unoccupied vehicles that require a physical key, not a start button.”
According to St.
The viral videos came from a group called the Kia Boyz from Milwaukee. The city’s police chief, Jeffrey Norman, told the Journal he first noticed the trend there in 2020, during pandemic-induced closures.
Law enforcement took action by increasing its presence, warning people and providing equipment to help protect cars from theft. In Milwaukee and in Cook County, Illinois, law enforcement agencies are issuing car stickers that would allow investigators to track and stop cars.
According to police data obtained by the Wall Street Journal, through the end of August, Kia and Hyundai thefts of Milwaukee were down 22% and 36%, respectively. In contrast, in the first eight months of 2021, thefts were 183% higher than a year earlier, the newspaper reported.
In August, the St. Louis Police Department 77% of all cars stolen that month.
A letter from city councilor Sheena Hamilton blamed the two car manufacturers for endangering the city and threatened legal action against the car companies if they did not help stop the problem.
“Kia and Hyundai’s defective vehicles have caused a public safety crisis in the city, endangering the health, safety and peace of everyone who lives, works or visits the city,” Hamilton said in the letter. “Your companies bear the responsibility to mitigate the public nuisance your negligence has created for the city and its residents.”
Vehicle manufacturers offer steering wheel locks
Spokesmen for Hyundai Motor America and Kia America expressed concerns about car thefts and the use of social media to target vehicles from both automakers that do not have engine immobilizers. Both noted that cars from both companies “meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”
“To help customers with previous year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has worked and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available to affected Hyundai owners,” a Hyundai spokesperson told Insider .
They added that the company has a security kit that will protect against theft that becomes available on October 1.
“While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are looking for vehicles equipped with only a steel key
and the ignition system “back to basics,” a Kia spokesperson told Insider. “Most Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a keyless entry device and a push-button-to-start system, making them more difficult to steal.”
The Kia America spokesperson added that the company has offered free steering wheel locks to law enforcement in cities that are heavily impacted by theft.