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Kia and Hyundai “Defect” has Atlanta Car Thefts Skyrocketingkeenan
Auto thefts in Atlanta have been on the rise, and two car models seem to be at the forefront of this increase – Kia and Hyundai. According to a Fox 5 News article, in the first three months of 2022, 49 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in Atlanta. However, in 2023, for the same time period, the number has jumped to 419, which represents a significant increase of 755%.
Investigators believe that juveniles are the ones typically committing Kia and Hyundai thefts, with many closely related to gang activity. Since Atlanta, GA, is already plagued by dangerous road conditions, the additional and acute safety concerns of vehicle theft have used a large portion of the state’s emergency response resources.
Why Atlanta Thieves are Targeting Hyundai and KIA Models
The rise in grand theft auto cases can be attributed to videos circulating on TikTok that show step-by-step guides on how to steal the South Korean car models. A thief can easily hotwire certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 by removing the steering wheel column cover with a screwdriver and turning the keyed ignition with a USB cable.
The questionable vehicles also lack engine immobilizers, which prevent a car from being started unless it receives an electronic signal from the key. About 8 Million Hyundai and Kia cars are affected by these vulnerabilities in total.
“The viral nature of how this has taken off on social media — it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen,” a Chicago police sheriff notes in a CNBC article, ”[The perpetrators are] doing it in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is as old-fashioned as you can imagine.”
It is rare that vehicle theft is the only crime involved. Unfortunately, the stolen cars are being used as catalysts for other dangerous crimes, like shootings and aggravated assaults.
Addressing a National Vehicle Theft Issue
Rob Bonta, the attorney general of California, has written a letter on Thursday, April 20th, demanding a mandatory federal recall of the approximately 8 million vehicles affected.
While Hyundai and Kia have announced anti-theft software updates on a per-vehicle basis, Bonta deems this remedy an “insufficient response”. The letter has support from 17 other attorneys general, alluding to the depth of the issue.
How to Protect Your Kia or Hyundai from Theft
While thefts of these two car models continue to rise, Kia and Hyundai owners can take the following steps to protect their car from theft:
- Park your car in a well-lit area, preferably in a garage or secure parking lot. Always lock your car doors and windows when parking
- Do not leave spare keys or key fobs inside the car or in an easily accessible location.
- Consider purchasing a steering wheel lock or column lock to prevent thieves from driving away with your car.
- Install a vehicle tracking system or GPS to help locate your car in case of theft.
- Don’t keep valuable items in your car, especially in plain sight.
- Consider installing a vehicle security system, such as an alarm or immobilizer, to deter thieves.