Hyundai and Kia vehicles have become a hot commodity for thieves across the U.S., thanks to a security flaw that was exposed on social media and allows anyone to start and steal the cars with a screwdriver and a USB cable.Embed from Getty Images
The flaw affects 8.3 million vehicles from the South Korean automakers, including popular models such as the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra, and the Kia Optima and Soul. The companies have issued a software update to fix the problem, but so far it hasn’t stopped the theft epidemic.
According to data from seven U.S. cities gathered by The Associated Press, the number of Hyundai and Kia thefts is still growing despite the companies’ efforts to reach out to owners and dealers.
In Minneapolis alone, police have received 1,899 Kia and Hyundai theft reports so far this year, nearly 18 times the number for the same period in 2022. “The scope of the problem is only expanding and is exponentially worse than it has been in the past,” Brian O’Hara, the police chief of Minneapolis, said in an email.Embed from Getty Images
Some U.S. cities have reported that 60% or more of their auto theft reports now involve Hyundais or Kias. The thefts have also been linked to other crimes, including at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.
The security flaw was first exposed on TikTok and other social media sites in late 2021, where videos showed how easy it was to bypass the ignition system of the affected vehicles. Hyundai and Kia have said they are accelerating their distribution of the software update, which can be installed by dealers or by owners themselves using a USB drive. The companies have also said they are using direct mail, phone calls, digital advertising and social media to try to reach the affected owners.
However, some owners have complained that they were not aware of the issue or the fix until they became victims of theft. Others have said they faced difficulties in getting the software update from dealers or online.
The automakers have also faced criticism for not recalling the vehicles or offering compensation to owners who have suffered losses or damages due to the thefts. Some owners have filed lawsuits against Hyundai and Kia, seeking class-action status and alleging negligence and breach of warranty.
- Hyundai and Kia thefts keep rising despite security fix by Tom Krisher, AP News, May 9, 2023
- Hyundai and Kia thefts keep rising despite security fix by ABC News, May 9, 2023
- Hyundai and Kia thefts keep rising despite security fix by Sentinel-Tribune, May 9, 2023