A surge in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles is plaguing cities across the country, with potential thieves being shown on social media how to bypass security features in some models.
In St. Paul, Minn., Fox 9 reported that almost a quarter of 2022's auto thefts so far have been Hyundais or Kias. In Grand Rapids, Mich., MLive reported Hyundai and Kia models made up about 45 percent of the city's auto thefts in June. In St. Louis, thefts of Kias and Hyundais have more than tripled in 2022, Spectrum News reported in early June.
Some city governments have blamed Hyundai and Kia for selling some models without engine immobilizers, which prevent the engine from starting without a digitally coded key or fob. According to some reports, users on applications such as TikTok and YouTube are giving detailed instructions on how to steal vehicles without immobilizers.
YouTube user El Mechanic, for example, posted a video in November 2021 demonstrating how to steal a Hyundai vehicle with a USB charger. That video and some news reports reference the "Kia Boys," the name for a viral group that steals Kia and Hyundai vehicles and posts the crimes on social media.
Police officials in numerous cities claim those emulating the trend are to blame for the recent sprees.
Hyundai and Kia spokespeople told Automotive News that they were aware of the thefts and that engine immobilizers are now standard on both brand's new vehicles.