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Kia and Hyundai “Defect” has Atlanta Car Thefts Skyrocketing


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: 


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