Hyundais, Kias are easy targets amid boom in vehicle thefts (2023)

Thefts went viral during the pandemic thanks to the absence of electronic immobilizers on many 2015-19 models.

September 22, 2022

Hyundais, Kias are easy targets amid boom in vehicle thefts (1)

When it comes to theft, bargain-priced vehicles manufactured by Kia and Hyundai now rival muscle cars and luxury SUVs as top targets, a Highway Loss Data Institute analysis of 2021 insurance claims shows.

Among newer models, whole vehicle theft claims were highest for the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, relative to its numbers on the road over 2018-22. But among 2015-19 model-year vehicles, theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundai and Kia vehicles as a group as for all other manufacturers, according to a recent HLDI report.

“Car theft spiked during the pandemic,” said HLDI Senior Vice President Matt Moore. “These numbers tell us that some vehicles may be targeted because they’re fast or worth a lot of money and others because they’re easy to steal.”

(Video) Car thefts rising involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles

Many 2015-19 Hyundai and Kia vehicles lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from simply breaking in and bypassing the ignition. The feature is standard equipment on nearly all vehicles of that vintage made by other manufacturers.

“Our earlier studies show that vehicle theft losses plunged after immobilizers were introduced,” said Moore. “Unfortunately, Hyundai and Kia have lagged behind other automakers in making them standard equipment.”

Immobilizers were already standard on 62 percent of models from other manufacturers in model year 2000. But even in model year 2015, when immobilizers were standard on 96 percent of other manufacturers’ vehicles, they were standard on only 26 percent of Hyundai and Kia vehicle models.

“If it doesn’t have an immobilizer, it does make it somewhat easier to steal,” said Darrell Russell, a former auto theft investigator who is now director of operations, vehicles, at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

In 2021, that comparative ease went viral on social media. In one of the earliest-affected states, Wisconsin, the fad caused overall losses from Hyundai-Kia thefts — the amount paid on theft claims per insured vehicle year — to soar to more than 30 times the 2019 level. An insured vehicle year refers to one vehicle insured for one year, two vehicles insured for six months and so forth.

“Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles,” the company said in a statement. “While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media.”

(Video) Hyundai, Kia vehicles being stolen at alarming rate

Kia also said their vehicles meet federal standards. The company added that “criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and turn-to-start ignition system” and “the majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and push-button-to-start system” that makes them more difficult to steal.

Russell said that the joyriding videos posted on social media and the method employed by the thieves suggest that most Hyundai and Kia vehicles are stolen only to be abandoned later.

“When you forcibly break the ignition, you’re causing so much damage that it’s not easy to re-VIN and resell the vehicle on the open market,” Russell said, referring to thieves who replace vehicle identification numbers with fake ones or substitutes from salvaged vehicles.

HLDI tracks “whole vehicle theft” by monitoring theft claims under comprehensive insurance that mirror the dollar value of the vehicle covered by the policy. It also defines the most stolen vehicles differently from the NICB and law enforcement agencies, measuring the frequency of theft by the number of claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years. This accounts for the fact that, all other things being equal, vehicles that are more common will be stolen more often. By that metric, late model variants of the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Infiniti Q50 have consistently had some of the highest whole vehicle theft claim frequencies for nearly a decade. But the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and both the two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions of the Kia Sportage all climbed into the top 20 in HLDI’s latest whole vehicle theft report.

Based on news reports and police advisories, Hyundai and Kia thefts have continued steadily, if not accelerated, in 2022. Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for instance, say there were nearly four thefts or attempted thefts per day between May 1 and July 7 in that city. Beginning in June last year, Hyundai and Kia owners in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin have filed class-action lawsuits against the sister companies, which have made immobilizers standard on their newest models and taken action to address the vulnerable vehicles already on the road.

For example, both manufacturers are working with local police departments to make steering wheel locks available to affected owners. Hyundai also says it has identified a security kit it believes will help. The kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and other authorized installers beginning in October. Immobilizers are standard on all Hyundai vehicles built after Nov. 1, 2021, and immobilizers were installed on all 2022 Kia models and trims either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.

(Video) Kia and Hyundai thefts on the rise amid TikTok challenge teaching how to steal vehicles, police say

The NICB emphasizes that professional thieves can steal any car but advises owners to take a layered approach to protect their vehicles, in line with their budget and perception of risk. Along with steering-wheel, brake-pedal, brake and wheel locks, it’s possible to install fuse cutoffs and kill switches as well as aftermarket immobilizer systems.


Hyundai and Kia theft losses

HLDI Bulletin Vol. 38, No. 28

High-theft vehicles revisited

(Video) TikTok trend may be causing car theft crime wave in Florida city

HLDI Bulletin Vol. 39, No. 10

Whole vehicle theft losses: 2019-21 passenger cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans

HLDI report

Media contact

EmailJoe Young
Director of Media Relations
office +1 434 985 9244
mobile +1 504 641 0491

(Video) Shocking Car Thefts Caught On Camera In New Online Trend

For more information, visit our press room.


Why are so many Kias and Hyundais being stolen? ›

Kia vehicles from model year 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai vehicles from model year 2016 to 2021 are especially vulnerable due to the absence of anti-theft devices that have long been standard for other automakers.

Which cars are the most popular targets for car thieves? ›

The following are the top 10 most stolen cars in America.
  • Honda Civic. Stats.
  • Honda Accord. Stats. ...
  • Toyota Camry. Stats. ...
  • Nissan Altima. Stats. ...
  • GMC Full-Size Pickup. Stats. ...
  • Toyota Corolla. Stats. Number of thefts: 12,515. ...
  • Honda CR-V. Stats. Number of thefts: 12,309. ...
  • Dodge Full-Size Pickup. Stats. Number of thefts: 11,991. ...
Dec 19, 2022

Are Hyundais hard to steal? ›

Hyundai and Kia vehicles have been targets of car thieves in recent months because it's incredibly easy to do so, and thieves are sharing how-to videos on social media. The raft of thefts is so bad that an average of six Hyundai vehicles are stolen each day just in Milwaukee, according to local news station WTMJ.

Why are thieves targeting Kia cars? ›

The "Kia Boyz" challenge, as its called, has thieves targeting certain models of 2010-2021 vehicles by makers Kia and Hyundai that use a mechanical key for access instead of a key fob or push-to-start access. The thieves are reportedly taking advantage of a design flaw in those vehicles.

Are Hyundais with push button start being stolen? ›

The TikTok trend teaches people how to steal late model Hyundai and Kia's, but a local mechanic said anyone who has a push-start car is also a target. “Thieves have gotten smart.

Are 2022 Hyundais being stolen? ›

In 2022, the New Orleans Police Department says 465 Hyundais manufactured between 2015-2021 and 389 Kias made between 2010-2021 have been stolen. Police say the models all have mechanical-keyed ignitions and lack an engine immobilizer. But it's not just New Orleans that is feeling the effects of the immobilizer issue.

Which Hyundais are vulnerable to theft? ›

The list of affected Hyundai models includes certain 2016-21 model year Accent, Elantra, Elantra GT, Sonata, Veloster, Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL and Palisade vehicles that use a steel key and do not have an engine immobilizer.

Why are Hyundai cars being stolen? ›

Some Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs are missing a “key” anti-theft device, and thieves know. An insurance industry group says these cars are stolen at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the auto industry because their keys lack computer chips for theft “immobilizer” systems.

What is the #1 stolen car in America? ›

The top 10 most stolen vehicles of 2020

2004 Chevrolet full size pick-up. 2000 Honda Civic. 1997 Honda Accord. 2019 Toyota Camry.

How do I protect my Hyundai from being stolen? ›

Hall provided these additional suggestions to help keep you car safe:
  1. Lock doors & take your keys.
  2. Don't leave a spare key in vehicle.
  3. Close windows.
  4. Park in well-lit areas.
  5. Install alarm system & anti-theft device.
  6. Install vehicle immobilizer system &/or tracking system.
Aug 10, 2022

How do you prevent a car theft in Hyundai? ›

If you have a 2016-2021 Hyundai or 2011-2021 Kia model that is started by a key, consider taking the following preventive measures: Purchase a steering wheel lock. These are relatively inexpensive and are an excellent visual deterrent to thieves. Purchase a security kit recently released by Hyundai.

What is the most theft proof car? ›

However, in recent years, automakers have made good strides, and most of the modern cars have incredible anti-theft systems in place.
15 Cars That Are Almost Impossible To Steal
  1. 1 Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster.
  2. 2 Google Self-driving Car. ...
  3. 3 Lexus HS 250H. ...
  4. 4 The Knight XV. ...
  5. 5 Hyundai Tucson. ...
  6. 6 Volkswagen Tiguan. ...
Jan 8, 2022

How do I protect my Kia from being stolen? ›

What To Do…For Now. Meanwhile, steering wheel locks can prevent the Tik Tok-fueled thefts. Hyundai and Kia have distributed locks to police departments to offer a free deterrent to Hyundai and Kia owners. Hyundai's newly available sensor kit is supposed to target how the thieves are gaining access to the cars.

Has Kia fixed their theft problem? ›

The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.

What brand of car is stolen the most? ›

Since Chevy pickups are the most stolen car, it's unsurprising that GMC pickups also make the list.
  • Total annual thefts: 15,599.
  • Top model year stolen: 2005.
Dec 20, 2022

What is Hyundai doing about car thefts? ›

Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit that targets the method of entry used by thieves to break into these vehicles. These kits are available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country.

How do I protect my push start car from theft? ›

To protect your keyless entry from being a victim of relay theft, here some are some quick tips:
  1. Use a Signal blocking pouch – Keep your car keys safe. ...
  2. Turn off Keyless Fob's Wireless Signal. ...
  3. Use a Steering Wheel Lock or Car Alarm. ...
  4. Re-programme your keys. ...
  5. Park defensively… ...
  6. Keep your vehicle tidy. ...
  7. Get your windows etched.

Can you steal a push start car without the key fob? ›

Can cars with start buttons be stolen? Yes, thieves may use the methods we listed above to steal keyless cars with start buttons, including signal relaying, signal jamming and key programming.

What Hyundai models are stolen the most? ›

Due in part to the ease with which these vehicles can be stolen, the 2019-21 Hyundai Accent is one of the most frequently stolen vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Loss Data Institute.

Can you trust Hyundai? ›

Numerous Hyundai models are on Consumer Reports' “recommended” list, for good all-around scores for reliability, customer satisfaction, safety features and road test scores. Hyundai also rates well for reliability with RepairPal.

Are Hyundais still being stolen? ›

These Hyundai and Kia vehicles are twice as likely to be stolen as other cars. Hyundai and Kia vehicles from model years 2015 through 2019 are nearly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles from the same period, according to a new report.

What are the top 5 safest cars? ›

Top 10 Safest Cars
  1. Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Average safety rating: 88% (5-stars) ...
  2. Mazda CX-30. Average safety rating: 86% (5-stars) ...
  3. Mazda3. Average safety rating: 86% (5-stars) ...
  4. Subaru Forester. Average safety rating: 85% (5-stars) ...
  5. Toyota Yaris. Average safety rating: 84% (5-stars) ...
  6. Nissan Juke. ...
  7. Ford Puma. ...
  8. Isuzu D-MAX.

Which Hyundai is the safest? ›

2022 Top Safety Picks
  • Small cars. Top Safety Pick. 2022-23 Hyundai Elantra 4-door sedan. with specific headlights.
  • Midsize cars. Top Safety Pick. 2022-23 Hyundai Sonata 4-door sedan. ...
  • Midsize luxury SUVs. Top Safety Pick+ 2022 Hyundai Nexo 4-door SUV.
  • Small pickups. Top Safety Pick. 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crew cab pickup.

Can I sue Kia if my car was stolen? ›

The truth is that you can file a lawsuit for just about any theft.

What is the controversy about Hyundai? ›

What is the Hyundai controversy all about? On February 5, a handle by the name Hyundai Pakistan Official sent out a tweet which called for “remembering the sacrifices” of people in Kashmir and asked for people to stand in support as these people continued to “struggle for freedom”.

Which keyless cars are most stolen? ›

The likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes E-class and Land Rover Discovery were also among the most stolen cars, underscoring the extent to which thieves are targeting high-end luxury vehicles with keyless entry systems.

Where should I keep my car keys at night? ›

Where do you put your car keys at night? Putting the keys near you at night, rather than the front door, is best. Keyless fobs should be placed into an RFID/Faraday box.

What US city has the most car thefts? ›

Key Facts. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 2021 Hot Spots Report and NICB's Hot Wheels Report. Bakersfield, CA, tops the list for the third year in a row, with the highest automobile theft rate in the U.S., according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau 2021 Hot Spots Report.

What state has the highest car theft rate? ›

Colorado, with the highest rate of motor vehicle theft in the nation, is considered to be a 'Hot-Spot ' by insurance companies.

Does Hyundai have trackers on cars? ›

The Car Finder feature is accessed through the MyHyundai with Bluelink Mobile App. This feature allows you to locate your vehicle on a map if your GPS signal is within a 1-mile radius of your vehicle, and gives you the ability to save your vehicle's location for future reference.

What is the flaw with Hyundai engines? ›

Hyundai admitted that issues in the manufacturing process of the engines left debris of a metal nature around the engine's crankshaft, which caused oil flow issues. The metal mixed with the oil and caused damage or failure of the connecting rod bearings.

What are the two easiest cars to steal? ›

Typically, luxury vehicles and sports cars rank highest on the “most-stolen” list, but Hyundai and Kia thefts have been on the rise, rivaling pricier models in recent years.

Are push to start cars easy to steal? ›

Keyless entry systems are a great innovation. Yet, they're not perfect. The technology in keyless entry systems actually makes it easier than ever to steal a car. Back in the old days, you needed to either obtain a key or be able to access a vehicle and hotwire it if you wanted to steal a car.

Why wrap your car keys in foil? ›

Prevent car theft by wrapping your car key fob in foil. Yes, that's right — a piece of tinfoil can stop your car from getting stolen. Key fobs might be convenient, but there's a security risk associated with them. Thieves can use devices that will amplify fob signals to cars or copy the code to get into a vehicle.

Do steering wheel locks prevent theft? ›

Steering wheel locks are effective at deterring thieves who don't have a power drill. Given that any determined thief is likely to carry such a tool, a steering wheel lock is not a perfect anti-theft device.

What cars do the Kia Boys target? ›

Car thieves, mostly teenagers target Kia and Hyundai vehicles because of their security shortcomings. This trend started first in the streets of Milwaukee, where a teen group named "Kia Boyz" started breaking into the car's security systems and causing damage to public and private properties.

Which Hyundai models don t have engine immobilizer? ›

Hyundai and Kia wouldn't provide the model years that don't have the immobilizers but Forbes reports models affected include 2016-2021 Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Elantra GT, Sonata, Veloster, Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL and Palisade as well as 2011-2021 Kias that use a key to start the ...

What is the most stolen car in 2022? ›

DES PLAINES, Ill., July 19, 2022 — For the second year in a row, Chevrolet and Ford full size pick-ups took the top two spots in the National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) annual Hot Wheels vehicle theft report, and the GMC full size pick-up made the top 10 list.
Model Year Most Often Stolen2020
38 more rows
Jul 19, 2022

What do thieves look for in a car? ›

Thieves will steal anything valuable, but the most common items stolen from cars tend to be electronics, personal information, and accessories.

What cars do thieves target? ›

Most Targeted Cars Nationwide
  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series.
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord.
  • 2007-17 Jeep Patriot.
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline.
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado.
  • 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox.
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V.
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry.
Nov 8, 2022

How are thieves stealing Kias and Hyundais? ›

And the automakers say they're not to blame for any of it. Thieves have learned how to steal the cars using USB cords in ignitions built without immobilizers, which prevent engines from starting without computer chips in keys. In St. Louis County alone, almost 1,000 Kias and Hyundais have been stolen so far this year.

What models of Kia and Hyundai are being stolen? ›

What insurance companies are saying. Money reached out to eight of the largest car insurance companies in the U.S. for comment on their response to the rise in thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars — specifically, many of the 2011 to 2021 models including Kia Souls and Sorentos and Hyundai Tucsons and Elantras.

Why do people boycott Kia and Hyundai? ›

The controversy

Kia Motors and Hyundai too posted on similar lines. The companies were called out for partisan meddling in the geopolitics of the region. Additionally, Twitter users urged boycotting their products.

Why are Hyundais so easy to steal? ›

Many 2015-19 Hyundai and Kia vehicles lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from simply breaking in and bypassing the ignition. The feature is standard equipment on nearly all vehicles of that vintage made by other manufacturers.

Are push-button start Kias easy to steal? ›

The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.

How do I stop my Hyundai from being stolen? ›

Hall provided these additional suggestions to help keep you car safe:
  1. Lock doors & take your keys.
  2. Don't leave a spare key in vehicle.
  3. Close windows.
  4. Park in well-lit areas.
  5. Install alarm system & anti-theft device.
  6. Install vehicle immobilizer system &/or tracking system.
Aug 10, 2022

Which cars are hardest to steal? ›

Here's a list of 15 cars that no sane car thief would want to target.
  • 15 Tesla Model S.
  • 14 Jaguar XF.
  • 13 Tesla Model X.
  • 12 Land Rover Discovery.
  • 11 BMW X3.
  • 10 Nissan Leaf.
  • 9 Audi A4.
  • 8 Mercedes-Benz GL 550 By TAC.
Jan 8, 2022

What is Kia doing to prevent thefts? ›

ST. LOUIS – As the number of stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles has increased, new technology is trying to deter thieves before they steal your vehicle. With just a press of a button, a new device called the “Bluetooth Interrupter” stops thieves in their tracks.

What is the most stolen car in America today? ›

Ford Pickups

Which Kias get stolen the most? ›

The Kia Sportage is one of the most-stolen vehicles right now. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) compiles a list of the most-stolen vehicles.

Is Kia better quality than Hyundai? ›

Hyundai Reliability — According to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, Kia was the highest-ranking manufacturer for reliability in the US, with the least amount of issues per 100 vehicles. Hyundai is close, winning the bronze, but for the current model year, Kia takes the gold medal!

Which brand is more reliable Hyundai or Kia? ›

Hyundai reliability ratings from J.D Power reveals a clear winner: Kia. In fact, Kia beat out all other automakers in 2022 with a score of 145 PP100 (Problems per 100 Vehicles). Hyundai rounds out the top three with a score of 148 PP100.

Which is considered better Kia or Hyundai? ›

So, the verdict is in – while Kia and Hyundai offer similar vehicles, Kia models offer better value and better quality, with bolder styling and a more dynamic driving experience. Simply put, Kia vehicles are all-around better vehicles, no matter what you value most in your car.


1. Social Media Prompts More Thefts Of Hyundai, Kia Cars
(NBC News)
2. LAPD issues alert over TikTok challenge encouraging vehicle thefts
(KTLA 5)
3. As thieves target Kia and Hyundai vehicles, here are some ways to protect your car
(Channel 3000 / News 3 Now)
4. Kia, Hyundai car theft on rise in St. Pete
(ABC Action News)
5. ‘As easy as 1-2-3′: Social media trend encourages people to steal Kia, Hyundai cars using USB ca...
(News4JAX The Local Station)
6. Hyundai and Kia thefts hit insurance and appraisal industry
(KSDK News)


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