What is the Problem?
If you drive a Hyundai or Kia built before 2022 and it uses a mechanical key (not a “push-to-start” or key fob), it could only take seconds for a car thief to steal your car.
How Easy Is It To Steal a Hyundai?
The thieves simply break into the car (often through the back window to avoid setting off the alarm), rip off a thin piece of plastic on the steering column, flick off another part on the ignition, and insert a USB phone charger into the hole. The car starts, and it’s gone.
Hyundai Built Vehicles Without Engine Immobilizers
Millions of Hyundai cars from the 2010-2021 model-years do not have an engine immobilizer, which is an anti-theft system built into the computer to prevent the vehicle from starting without an authorized key.
Vehicles built after November 2021 were required by law to have engine immobilizers, so the newest Hyundai and Kia vehicles are not quite so easy to steal. But there are millions of vulnerable vehicles on the road right now.
Hyundai Car Thefts Up 1,000% After Viral #KiaBoyz TikTok Challenge
Thefts are up more than 1,000% in many cities across America. One example is St. Louis, Missouri, where the mayor blamed Hyundai for causing a “public safety crisis” by failing to put engine immobilizers in so many vehicles, resulting in hundreds of car thefts in recent months.
What Is the #KiaBoyz TikTok Challenge?
In the summer of 2021, a series of videos went viral on TikTok under the hashtag #KiaBoyz. These videos were basically a “how-to guide” for how to steal a Hyundai or Kia using nothing but a USB port, or screwdriver, pocket knife, or a USB phone charger (often found in the car being stolen).
These videos were viewed millions of times before TikTok took them down, but by then it was far too late — a new generation of car thieves had learned how incredibly easy it was to steal a Hyundai or Kia.
A lot of these thieves are just teenagers, not even old enough to have a drivers’ license, and they have been joyriding around neighborhoods at dangerous speeds and posting their #KiaBoyz challenge videos on TikTok.
Hyundai Theft Ends in Deadly Car Accident
In some cases, joyrides have ended in deadly car accidents. In July 2022, a 70-year-old woman was hit and killed by a stolen Kia Sportage.
Police officers called the thefts an “epidemic” in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where nearly 500 thefts were reported in the first half of 2022 alone — up more than 1,300% from the previous year, when the trend started.
“It’s really shocking how many times a day we’re seeing reports of Kias and Hyundais, specifically, driving through neighborhoods, high speeds of 70, 80, 90, 100 miles an hour through residential streets four or five times an hour, (in) different cars.”
Undersheriff Mike Martin said: “The Kias and Hyundais have what I call a design flaw that allows them to be stolen easier. All they have to do is break a window and get in and within seconds those cars can be compromised and be started with a USB port or even a pocket knife.”
What Can I Do?
Hyundai has not issued a recall or offered a free repair. Instead, Hyundai owners will be able to pay for a security kit beginning October 1, 2022. Owners can also buy a steering wheel locking device like “The Club.” They could also pay a professional to install a battery kill switch, aftermarket anti-theft system, or a GPS tracking device in the vehicle.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed by Man Who Had Car Stolen
In September 2022, a class action lawsuit was filed against Hyundai (the parent company of Kia) by LaShaun J., a man who had his 2019 Kia Sportage stolen. According to police, the thieves were able to steal the car using nothing but a flathead screwdriver. They also broke the window and caused significant damage to the hood and door.
The Hyundai Car Theft Lawsuit was filed on September 2, 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota — Case Number 0:22-cv-02164-ECT.