Thieves impressed by social media are stealing sure fashions of Kias and Hyundais with little greater than a phone-charging cable.
The pattern began in Milwaukee earlier than spreading to cities nationwide. It has led to a number of lawsuits filed in opposition to the carmakers. Plaintiffs allege that Kia and Hyundai defrauded customers by promoting unsafe autos that lack a typical type of anti-theft know-how, which made them sitting geese for thieves.
The carmakers have taken some steps to stop further thefts, together with offering free steering wheel locks via native police departments, in keeping with statements emailed to NerdWallet.
Prevention is essential. Having your automotive stolen is disruptive and costly, assuming you will need to substitute your automobile or restore it, if it’s recovered. However should you personal one of many affected Kia or Hyundai fashions, you may face further penalties, together with pricier insurance coverage and lowered resale worth on a automobile that’s identified to be simply stolen.
Right here’s what you want to know in regards to the wave of Kia and Hyundai thefts — and find out how to defend your self.
TikTok problem spurs Kia and Hyundai thefts
Movies posted on TikTok, YouTube and different social media websites over the previous a number of months reveal find out how to steal sure Kia and Hyundai fashions offered between 2011 and 2021. These fashions use a key, fairly than a push-start ignition system.
These autos don’t have engine immobilizers, which use digital alerts to stop the automotive from beginning with out the right key. Most automobiles made previously 20 years are outfitted with engine immobilizers as a result of they’ve been so efficient at lowering automotive thefts.
Brazen movies that includes the “Kia Boys” in Milwaukee reveal find out how to steal these Kias and Hyundais that don’t have engine immobilizers. They accomplish that utilizing a screwdriver, and even one thing as ubiquitous as a USB twine.
In response to the rise in thefts, Hyundai now contains immobilizers in all autos, beginning with these made after Nov. 1, 2021, in keeping with a Hyundai Motor America assertion despatched to NerdWallet. In a separate assertion, Kia America mentioned all 2022 fashions have an immobilizer.
The focused thefts began occurring earlier than the movies went viral. However the tutorials are being blamed for a leap in Kia and Hyundai thefts in cities throughout the nation. Take St. Paul, Minnesota, the place one among many class motion lawsuits was filed this month. Between January and August 2021, 31 Kias and 48 Hyundais had been stolen, in keeping with St. Paul Police Division knowledge. Throughout the identical interval this 12 months, that rely elevated to 334 Kia and 288 Hyundai thefts.
The Kia and Hyundai thefts add to a nationwide car-theft drawback that’s lasted two years. The Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau, which analyzes crime knowledge, reported that automobile crime has elevated since 2020, with carjackings and catalytic converter thefts nearing report highs. Virtually one million autos had been stolen in 2021, the NICB mentioned in an e-mail. Of these, about 782,300 had been passenger autos.
Thefts might have broad penalties for automotive house owners
When automotive thefts happen, insurance coverage can assist cowl the loss or harm, if the policyholder has complete protection.
However the way in which wherein sure Kias and Hyundais are being focused makes insurance coverage a thornier challenge for these specific automotive house owners — even when they haven’t had their automotive stolen. When danger will increase, so do insurance coverage charges.
What somebody pays for automotive insurance coverage is dependent upon a number of components, together with the place the automotive is saved, the variety of claims on the individual’s report and the kind of automotive they personal, Loretta Worters, vice chairman of media relations with the Insurance coverage Data Institute, mentioned in an e-mail.
“It additionally is dependent upon the insurer and what their claims expertise has been, but when an organization has seen quite a lot of losses by clients who personal a automobile that’s liable to being stolen for components, and many others., then that would end in greater premiums,” Worters mentioned. “We already see that with sure automotive fashions which are stolen most continuously.”
Resale values additionally might take a success now that there’s widespread data that these autos are at greater danger of theft, says Christine Hines, legislative director with the Nationwide Affiliation of Shopper Advocates. “It’s not going to be value what it needs to be value in the event that they wish to promote it, and that’s not truthful.”
The circumstances of the nationwide pattern underscores carmakers’ duty to behave, Hines says.
“It’s one thing they may have foreseen given that almost all different producers had these anti-theft gadgets,” Hines says. “You simply don’t need individuals to be in danger. That’s on the producers. They need to be performing shortly to make sure the protection of their clients.”
Methods to stop automotive theft
With automotive thefts of all types on the rise in the course of the pandemic, all automotive house owners ought to take precautions to keep away from turning into a sufferer. NICB recommends ensuring insurance coverage insurance policies are present, taking valuables with you or holding them out of sight once you depart your automotive, locking your automotive when it’s unoccupied and parking in well-lit areas.
In the event you personal a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai, verify together with your carmaker about your particular automobile to seek out out whether or not you’re at the next danger for automotive theft and what the producer will do to assist.
- Kia house owners can name buyer help at 1-800-333-4542.
- Hyundai house owners ought to name 800-633-5151.
The free steering wheel locks Kia and Hyundai are offering are a visual deterrent that would maintain somebody from breaking into your automobile in an try and steal it.
Along with offering the steering wheel locks, in addition to engine immobilizers in new fashions, Hyundai has mentioned automotive house owners can purchase a Compustar safety equipment that may assist stop thefts. The equipment can be out there beginning Oct. 1 and would should be put in at a Hyundai dealership or by Compustar.