By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
The theft of vintage Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs has become a TV horror show. Now, data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, which collects information on insurance claims, confirms that these South Korean models are more likely to be stolen than others.
In fact, 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are twice as likely to be stolen than other vehicles of the same age. Because it’s a lot These cars do not have the necessary principles to prevent auto theft including technology in many other cars, even in those years, according to HLDI.
These models do not have electronic barriers that rely on a computer in the car and another in the key communicating to verify that the key is genuine and belongs to the car. Without the right key, the driver must do just that – immobilize the car.
Immobilizers were standard equipment on 96% of vehicles sold in the 2015-2019 model years, according to HLDI, but were standard on only 26% of Hyundais and Kias. Cars with push-button start systems, instead of relying on metal keys that have to be inserted and turned, have locks, but not all models have ignition keys.
Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but Hyundai Motor Group has a major stake in Kia and the various Hyundai and Kia brands share much of their technology.
The trend of car theft became more widespread on social media last year, according to HLDI. In Wisconsin, where it first became popular, reported thefts of Hyundais and Kias rose more than 30 times in 2019 in dollar terms.
Some videos posted on TikTok showed stolen Hyundai and Kia cars being driven recklessly and crashing. “TikTok does not approve of content that violates our policy and will be removed if found on our platform,” TikTok said recently.
The theft pattern, which involves extensive damage to the engine, indicates that these vehicles are being stolen for fun rather than for sale, according to HLDI.
“When you break the ignition, you’re doing so much damage that it’s not easy to reset the VIN and resell the car on the open market,” said Darrell Russell, a former auto theft investigator who is now the company’s chief operating officer. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, said in a statement. Resetting a vehicle’s VIN means changing or altering the Vehicle Identification Number, an identification number made up of 17 letters and numbers, to make the vehicle harder to track.
HLDI’s estimate of theft times is based on the number of vehicles for a given type on the road and the number of reported vehicle thefts. Some cars are stolen more often because many of them have been sold, so there are just too many of them on the road to steal.
In the case of these Hyundai and Kia models, the prices of theft are very different from their number on the road.
Cars manufactured after November 1, 2021 and equipped with push-button start should not be stolen in this way, Hyundai spokesman Ira Gabriel said. Electronic immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles, including those with keyed ignition, after that date.
Also for those who have old cars without locks, Hyundai has got devices that can be installed to prevent this type of theft. Starting October 1, the safety equipment will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and authorized installers, the automaker said in a statement.
Kia also said that many Kia vehicles in the United States have push-button start systems that make theft difficult. The The NICB advises owners who are concerned that their vehicle may be the target of theft to take some simple steps such as always locking the doors and parking in a well-lit area. Furthermore, owners can also use aftermarket anti-theft equipment such as additional alarms, steering wheel and pedal locks and key switches.
Among the new vehicles, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a large sedan with a supercharged V8 capable of producing more than 700 horsepower, was the most popular with thieves compared to its volume on the road, according to HLDI. Dodge cars are manufactured by the international car company Stellanits.
“All Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed government safety and security standards. We use industry-leading technologies, including self-driving capabilities, across our North American fleet,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Nevertheless, we urge all motorists to take proper safety precautions.”
CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.
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CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this story.