The small and cheap devices are being given to Hyundai and Kia owners for free.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has proposed giving free Apple AirTag real-time tracking devices to owners of Hyundais, Kias, and other vehicles to help prevent theft, according to a New York Post report.
For nearly a year now, the South Korean sister brands have been the subject of immense criticism because some of their models built from 2010-2021, such as the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Soul, are vulnerable to theft because they lack engine immobilizers.
Social media platforms, specifically TikTok and YouTube, have helped fuel thefts as hacking groups, one calling itself the "Kia Boys," have demonstrated how quick and straightforward it is to steal these cars. In one embarrassing instance, an undercover NYC cop's unmarked Kia Optima was stolen and taken for a 12-hour joyride.
Major insurance companies also announced they would no longer insure these vehicles, and 18 state attorneys have demanded a recall. In February, the automaker announced a fix for the problem with a free software upgrade for 8.3 million vehicles. But NYC officials are still not satisfied.
"The aggravated number of grand larceny autos continues to drive up crime in our city," said Adams. "This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car location that a person is not aware, of is an excellent tracking device. It's easy to monitor. You can see in real-time where the vehicle is located."
The NYPD has released a video demonstrating how these devices will assist the police in tracking a stolen vehicle. Officials are also encouraging owners to go out and purchase an AirTag immediately because some precincts have higher theft rates than others, so they're being given priority distribution. An "equitable plan" for handing out the AirTags is still being worked out.
The Association for a Better New York has already donated 500 AirTags. City officials know that it is not enough and are asking other organizations for donations. NYC car thefts, in general, are on the rise this year, reaching 4,492 through April 23. Last year at this time, that figure was 3,966 thefts - over a 13% increase. The NYPD and the mayor are fully aware that AirTags are not the end-all solution to the problem; they're "another layer of protection."
Owners of non-Hyundais and Kias are also eligible to receive free AirTags, but it seems those two brands are receiving priority. NYPD data reveals that 104 Hyundais and 99 Kias were stolen in December compared to September when 21 Hyundais and only seven Kias were stolen.
The mayor made it clear that there will be no centralized tracking system, meaning it'll be up to owners to contact the police if their car is stolen.
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