Hyundai and Kia vehicles have become a favorite target of thieves.
The crime spree began last year in Wisconsin, when TikTok and YouTube users posted videos showing how to break into the vehicles, rip off the steering column and bypass the key with a USB cable. Criminals in other states soon joined in, leading to a rash of thefts around the country.
The affected vehicles — mostly from the 2011 through 2021 model years — don't contain electronic immobilizers, which are standard on most new vehicles and prevent the engine from being started without a key fob. The issue has led to dozens of class-action lawsuits and some owners using measures such as anti-theft clubs.
Without an ideal solution from the automakers, Elliot Silk, a service director at Suntrup Automotive Group, of St. Louis, which has one Kia and one Hyundai store among its five dealerships, decided to take matters into his own hands.