Hyundai and Kia thefts soar more than 1,000% since 2020

Jan 4, 2024, 12:19 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:24 am

Brand new Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs are displayed at a Hyundai dealership on April 7, 2017 in Colma, Ca...

Brand new Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs are displayed at a Hyundai dealership on April 7, 2017 in Colma, California.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Certain Hyundai and Kia models saw a 10-fold increase in thefts in just the past three years, a wildly dramatic increase in the wake of a series of social media posts showing people how to steal the vehicles.

Theft insurance claims for vulnerable Hyundais and Kias increased more than 1000% between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2023, according to data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an industry group that tracks insurance statistics.

In the first half of 2020, roughly 1.6 out of every 1,000 insured Hyundais and Kias were reported stolen. That was about the same as for all other makes of cars. By the first half of 2023, though, that figure had risen to 11.2 per 1,000. Meanwhile, the theft rate for all other makes of cars stayed about the same.

During the first half of 2023, Hyundai and Kia theft claims were also more than seven times higher than for cars from other manufacturers, according to the HLDI.

Certain older Hyundai and Kia models made between 2015 to 2019 are particularly vulnerable to car thieves. Less expensive versions of vehicles such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and the Kia Forte and Sportage equipped with turn-key ignitions — as opposed to cars that only require a button press to start – are roughly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of a similar age.

Many of these vehicles lack some of the basic auto theft prevention technology, such as electronic immobilizers, included in most other vehicles even in those years, according to the HLDI. Electronic immobilizers rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key that communicate to confirm that the key is authentic and really belongs to that vehicle.

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. More recent models are less vulnerable to theft.

Some states, such as New York, Washington and Delaware, had marked increases in Hyundai and Kia theft claims during the first half of last year, according to HLDI data. In Maryland, for example, theft claims increased from four per 1,000 insured vehicles in the last half of 2022 to 14 in the first half of 2023.

The method of theft, which involves using the metal tip of a USB cable to start the car, spread through social media, especially TikTok.

Vandalism claims also soared for the afflicted Hyundais and Kias, peaking at three times the rate of other vehicles on the market in the first half of 2023, the HLDI said. The spike was likely the result of failed theft attempts, it added.

Presumably, the rapid increase in thefts is tied to broader awareness of the vulnerability and techniques for exploiting it, said Matt Moore, senior vice president at HLDI. While the theft trend initially spread on social media, traditional media stories about the trend also carry information how vulnerable these vehicles. But media coverage can also serve to let people know there are ways to protect their vehicles.

“I think at this point, like it’s it’s important to help consumers understand, the folks who own these vehicles that have the vulnerability, that there there is a remedy that that is available,” he said.

Earlier this year, Hyundai and Kia agreed to a $200 million settlement with as many as 9 million vehicle owners to settle claims that the automakers didn’t do enough to make the vehicles secure. Along with payments for stolen and damaged vehicles, the settlement also included installation of anti-theft software and the costs of other theft-preventative measures.

The issue has become so prevalent that some auto insurers in certain markets have simply refused to cover these older Hyundai and Kia models, something insurers don’t often do.

Both automakers pointed to the steps they have taken to provide anti-theft equipment and technologies to customers. They have also worked with local police to distribute steering locks to owners of these models.

“Kia continues to take significant steps to support our customers in response to criminals using methods of theft promoted and popularized on social media to steal or attempt to steal certain vehicle models,” Kia spokesman James Bell said as part of a lengthy statement detailing steps the company has taken. He urged eligible customers to install the software upgrade that his Kia rolled out earlier this year.

Hyundai said it has also set up temporary service centers in a number of major cities to install anti-theft software in vehicles.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Afghan relatives offer prayers during a burial ceremony near the graves of victims who lost their l...

Niamh Kennedy and Radina Gigova, CNN

At least 300 people killed by flash floods in Afghanistan

At least 300 people have died in flash flooding that has ravaged northern Afghanistan in recent days, the Word Food Programme said Sunday.

1 month ago

The Apple Store at Towson Town Center Mall in Maryland is pictured. Apple Store workers in Towson, ...

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Apple Store workers in Maryland vote to authorize strike

Apple Store workers in Towson, Maryland made history by voting late May 11 in favor of authorizing a strike.

1 month ago

Smoke from wildfires blankets the city as a couple has a picnic in Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, May...

Paradise Afshar and Sara Smart, CNN

Canadians evacuate due to wildfires as air quality deteriorates

Thousands across Canada were urged to evacuate from blazing wildfires on Saturday, and the smoke emanating from them could be another danger.

1 month ago

Salvage crew members work on the deck of the cargo ship Dali on Friday, May 10....

Nicole Grether and Gloria Pazmino, CNN

Crews could use explosives to demolish part of Baltimore’s Key Bridge

Crews are expected to execute a plan to use small explosives to break apart a massive chunk of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed.

1 month ago

The sun is rising with a flare over Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, on May 10....

Brian Fung, CNN

Why tonight’s massive solar storm could disrupt communications and GPS systems

An unusual amount of solar activity due to a solar storm this week could disrupt some of the most important technologies society relies on.

1 month ago

A customer wipes sweat from their face as they work out on a treadmill inside a Planet Fitness Inc....

Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Planet Fitness will raise its $10 membership plan for the first time in 26 years

Planet Fitness will raise the price of its “classic” membership from $10 a month to $15 for new members beginning in the summer.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Hyundai and Kia thefts soar more than 1,000% since 2020