Hyundai and Kia models topped the US car theft rankings last year

Hyundai and Kia models topped the US car theft rankings last year

Two Hyundai models and one Kia were the three most stolen vehicles last year, according to a report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The Hyundai Elantra compact car was stolen more than 48,000 times last year while the Hyundai Sonata sedan was stolen nearly 43,000 times, according to the report. Kia Optima sedans have been stolen more than 30,000 times according to the report, which only counts thefts reported to police.

This theft figure far surpasses the fourth most stolen model, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup, one of America’s best-selling vehicles. Silverado pickups have been stolen about 24,000 times, according to the report.

Overall, six of the 10 most stolen vehicles in America last year were Hyundai and Kia models. That list includes the Kia Soul, Kia Forte, and Kia Sportage. Other vehicles on the list are the Honda Accord, Honda Civic and the Ford F-150 pickup.

The NICB reports the raw number of police-reported thefts collected through the National Crime Information Centre. The numbers are not adjusted for the population of specific models on the road so, to some extent, some vehicles may be stolen more often simply because there are more vehicles available to steal.

Why Hyundai and Kia cars are the main targets
By the first half of 2023, thefts of older Hyundai and Kia models had increased by 1,000% since 2020, according to a report by the Highway Loss Data Institute earlier this year.

Some older Hyundai and Kia models made before 2023 are particularly vulnerable to car thieves. Cheaper versions of vehicles like this one equipped with turn-key ignition – as opposed to cars that only require a button to be pressed to start – are about twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of the same age, according to HLDI.

These vehicles may lack some basic car theft prevention technology, such as an electronic immobilizer, included in most other vehicles even in those years, according to HLDI. An electronic immobilizer relies on a computer chip in the car and another on the key that communicates to verify that the key is authentic and belongs to the vehicle.

This technique of stealing cars is spread through social media channels.

Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but Hyundai Motor Group owns a large stake in Kia, and various Hyundai and Kia models share much of their engineering. More recent models from these automakers are less prone to theft.

Earlier this year, Hyundai and Kia agreed to a $200 million settlement with 9 million vehicle owners to resolve claims that the automaker did not do enough to keep the vehicles safe. Along with payments for stolen and damaged vehicles, the settlement also includes the installation of anti-theft software and the cost of other anti-theft measures.

“In response to this situation, Kia continues to take comprehensive measures to improve the security of our vehicles in an effort to prevent criminals from using theft methods popularized on social media to break the law and steal or attempt to steal certain vehicle models,” Kia Spokesperson James Bell said in an emailed statement.

More than 1.1 million Kia vehicles nationwide have anti-theft software installed, according to Kia. The company also provides a free steering wheel lock for vehicles that cannot receive anti-theft software. Hyundai says it has retroactively added various anti-theft measures to its 1.3 million vehicles.

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