Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, have seen a significant increase in car thefts involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg has accused the automakers of failing to install an “industry-standard safety feature,” leading to a spike in car theft activity and creating a public nuisance. In Louisville alone, 3,000 Hyundais and Kias have been reported stolen this year.
A mechanic on TikTok demonstrated a security flaw that allows thieves to start certain models manufactured from 2011 to 2022 using a screwdriver and a USB cord. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) in Tennessee has also witnessed a surge in Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts. They have urged owners of specific Kia and Hyundai models to visit dealerships for anti-theft software upgrades to deter car thieves.
According to the MNPD, there has been a 410% increase in stolen Kia and Hyundai cars, with over 1,000 reported stolen so far this year. The majority of these thefts are committed by juveniles, who are attracted to the method due to its popularity on social media. The stolen vehicles are typically recovered within two or three days, as they are used for other crimes such as breaking into other cars.
The overall vehicle theft rate in the United States continues to rise, with over 1 million vehicles reported stolen in 2022, a 7% increase from the previous year. Notably, three Kia and Hyundai models made the top 10 list of stolen vehicles nationally for the first time.
Insurance companies like State Farm and Progressive Insurance have taken measures to address the issue. State Farm has temporarily stopped accepting new customer applications for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles due to the significant increase in theft losses. This move is unprecedented in the auto insurance industry.
Michael Barry, the chief communications officer with the Insurance Information Institute, stated that the high theft rates prompted insurers to avoid taking on additional risks associated with these vehicles and policyholders.
In response to the rising car thefts, law enforcement agencies, automakers, and insurance companies are working to address the security vulnerabilities and implement measures to deter thieves.