The dramatic surge in thefts of certain Hyundai and Kia models, exceeding 1,000% since 2020, can be largely attributed to a notable vulnerability in older models produced between 2015 and 2019. These models, specifically less expensive versions with turn-key ignitions like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and the Kia Forte and Sportage, lack fundamental auto theft prevention technologies such as electronic immobilizers. This technology, typically standard in most vehicles of that era, involves a computer chip in both the car and the key that verifies the key’s authenticity.
The method of theft, widely spread through social media platforms like TikTok, involves using the metal tip of a USB cable to start the car. This has led to significant spikes in vandalism claims as well, likely due to failed theft attempts. The widespread media coverage of this trend, both on social media and traditional media, has unfortunately also contributed to a broader awareness and exploitation of these vulnerabilities. However, this coverage has also highlighted ways to protect the vehicles.
In response to this issue, Hyundai and Kia have taken several measures. They have agreed to a $200 million settlement with vehicle owners, which includes payments for stolen and damaged vehicles and the installation of anti-theft software. Additionally, they have collaborated with local police to distribute steering locks to owners of these models. Hyundai has also established temporary service centers in major cities to install anti-theft software in vehicles.
Given these developments, crafting a blog post on this topic would involve a careful examination of the impact of social media on vehicle security, the technical vulnerabilities of certain car models, and the steps taken by manufacturers and vehicle owners to mitigate these risks. This approach will provide a comprehensive and engaging narrative for readers interested in automotive security and the influence of digital platforms on real-world issues.