In Some U.S. Cities, Almost Half of Car Theft Is Kia and Hyundai

We’ve told you before about the high incidence of Hyundai and Kia car theft in and around the U.S. before. But there is new information to show just how rampant it actually is. In fact, there are some cities that are seeing virtually half of their car thefts involving one or the other Korean car manufacturer. There are now several YouTube videos showing other thieves how to use USB chargers to start Kia and Hyundai engines.

Overall, the past two years have seen an increase in auto thefts. Blame it on the pandemic, and also the economy. But the rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts has ballooned, partially attributing to these overall bad numbers.

Which cities are seeing the worst Hyundai and Kia thefts?

Keyless entry
Keyless entry fob | Getty

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, 45 percent of stolen cars in June were either a Kia or Hyundai, according to MLive. In St. Paul, Minnesota, it accounts for a quarter of car thefts so far this year. And compared to last year, in St. Louis, Missouri, police have seen a 254 percent rise in Kia thefts. For Hyundai, it is slightly lower at 222 percent. 

Automotive News says it is seeing similar numbers out of Memphis, Tennessee, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio. Authorities are blaming the two carmakers for not having engine immobilizers on key fobs. This is pretty much standard theft protection from most other manufacturers. To start the car’s engine the driver needs a digitally coded key fob. All of Hyundai’s and Kia’s latest models have the technology. 

The Milwaukee City Council even sent a letter to Kia and Hyundai blaming them for the rise in car thefts. “We write to ask that KIA Motors America Inc., make fundamental changes to the mechanisms used to secure its vehicles,” one letter said. “We do this not only in the interest of protecting the property and persons of those who purchase your vehicles, but to try and do something to lessen the drain on police and other resources that seems directly attributable to certain defects in their locking system.”

Who are the “Kia Boys”?

A 2022 Kia Stinger in red parked outdoors.
Kia Stinger | Kia

The “Kia Boys” are a viral group that steals Kia automobiles and then posts the theft on YouTube. It describes and encourages other groups to do similar crimes. 

Both Kia and Hyundai have sent similar statements, “Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts. The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority. These vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and engine immobilizers are standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles.”

Even service departments are being squeezed as a proliferation of the two brand’s cars show up at dealerships. This gets complicated due to insurance companies not addressing the issue with owners. So while insurance companies negotiate and fill out forms, the cars sit at the dealership for days and sometimes weeks. 

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