Local authorities are being stretched thin by the continued thefts.
Cars are undoubtedly expensive right now. With transaction prices going up without any sign of slowing in demand, some people are looking for desperate ways to gain a set of wheels. Sadly it turns out that a popular option is to steal a Hyundai or Kia, and social media shows you how.
We've been keeping tabs on this stolen Korean car trend on the rise. This became a problem when the city of Milwaukee, WI reported a 2,500% increase in thefts, with two-thirds of those thefts involving a Kia or Hyundai product.
A purge group going by the 'Kia Boys' have shown off their newly stolen cars on social media, inviting more would-be criminals to partake. Videos on TikTok, as well as YouTube, have reportedly been giving out detailed instructions on how easy it is to steal cars from the two brands.
One YouTube user, referred to as El Mechanic, demonstrated using a USB phone charger. By removing the under-column cowl, the ignition can allegedly be turned on using nothing more than the USB-A connection and inserting it into the ignition slot on the steering column. He claims it overrides the chip in the key, referring to the immobilizer - but the flaw in this logic is that the vehicle he is starting is a 2011-14 Hyundai Sonata. Older Hyundais and Kias did not have immobilizers, and these appear to be the primary focus of the thefts.
The 'Kia Boys' is mentioned by El Mechanic. They're also the source of blame for the mass thefts happening in major cities per police officials. In St. Louis, for example, Spectrum News reported a 254 percent increase in thefts of Kia models and nearly the same jump for Hyundais compared to 2021.
It's not clear if it's certain models that thieves are going for, aware of which vehicles can be stolen or not. One report mentions a Kia Sportage that was stolen and then involved in a fatal collision in Minnesota.
Hyundai and Kia are aware of the issue, having both released statements insisting that all new models sold are fitted with an immobilizer as standard for 2022. Unfortunately, there remain more questions than answers about a permanent fix.
Dealers are reportedly feeling the strain, as it comes down to insurance companies to grant the request for theft repairs. Juston Anderson, general manager of Buerkle Hyundai in Minnesota is looking for a solution.
Speaking to Automotive News, he said, "We're really hoping the manufacturer, at some point, has some guidance that could help us at least have some good news to tell the customer."