September 24, 2022

In fact, 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are about twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of a similar age. There are many reasons these vehicles lack some basic anti-theft technologies in most other vehicles, even those years, according to HLDI.

These models do not have electronic immobilizers that rely on a computer chip in the car and others in the key communicating to confirm that the key is authentic and really belongs to that vehicle. Without the right key, the immobilizer is supposed to 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 a push-button start system, rather than relying on metal keys that must be inserted and turned, have immobilizers, but not all key-in-key models 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 trend of car theft spread on social media last year, according to HLDI. In Wisconsin, where it first became popular, theft charges against Hyundais and Kias have risen to more than 30 times their 2019 dollar level.

Some videos posted on TikTok show allegedly stolen Hyundai and Kia vehicles driving recklessly and even crashing. “TikTok does not condone this behavior that violates our rules and will be removed if found on our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson said recently.

The method of theft, which involved serious damage to the ignition system, indicates that these cars are being stolen for fun, not for resale, according to HLDI.

“When you forcefully kill the ignition, you do so much damage that it is not easy to get the VIN back and resell the vehicle on the open market,” Darrell Russell, a former auto theft investigator who is now director of operations at the National Criminal Investigation Bureau, said in a statement. To re-VIN a vehicle means to change or replace its vehicle identification number, an identification code consisting of 17 letters and numbers, to make the vehicle more difficult to trace.

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

However, in the case of these Hyundai and Kia models, the theft rates are far compared to their numbers on the road.

Vehicles built after Nov. 1, 2021 and vehicles with push-button start cannot be stolen this way, Hyundai spokesman Ira Gabriel said. Electronic immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles, including those with a keyless ignition, after that date.

Also, for those with older vehicles that don’t have immobilizers, Hyundai has identified a kit that can be installed to prevent this kind 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 noted that most Kia vehicles in the United States have push-button start systems that make theft more difficult. The The NICB advises owners who are concerned that their vehicle may be the target of theft to take easy steps as always, locking doors and parking in well-lit areas. In addition, owners can also use anti-theft devices such as additional 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 more than 700 horsepower, was the most popular among thieves in terms of numbers on the road, according to HLDI. Dodge vehicles are produced by the global car company Stellanits.

“All Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed applicable federal safety and security standards. We use standard technologies, including immobilizer capability, across the entire North American vehicle lineup,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Nevertheless, we urge all drivers to take care to insure their vehicles.”

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.

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