Hyundai and Kia ModelsTopList of Most Stolen Vehicles in the US

Hyundai and Kia models top the list of most stolen vehicles in 2023, with over 121,000 thefts reported, due to a design flaw and social media-promoted theft techniques. The automakers have rolled out software updates and offered free anti-theft measures to affected vehicle owners.

Trim Correspondents
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Hyundai and Kia ModelsTopList of Most Stolen Vehicles in the US

Hyundai and Kia ModelsTopList of Most Stolen Vehicles in the US

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released its annual report on the commonly stolen vehicles in the United States, and for the first time, Hyundai and Kia models have claimed the top three spots. The Hyundai Elantra, Sonata, and Kia Optima were the most frequently stolen cars in 2023, with over 121,000 thefts reported.

The Hyundai Elantra topped the list with more than 48,000 reported thefts, followed by the Hyundai Sonata at nearly 43,000 thefts and the Kia Optima at over 30,000. These numbers significantly surpassed the fourth most stolen make, model, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup, which was taken about 24,000 times. In total, Hyundai and Kia vehicles occupied six of the top ten spots on the NICB's list.

Why this matters: The surge in thefts of these particular models highlights the need for automakers to prioritize vehicle security and for owners to take proactive measures to protect their vehicles. Moreover, the role of social media in popularizing theft techniques underscores the importance of responsible content creation and dissemination.

The rise in thefts of these particular models has been attributed to a design flaw that makes them easier to steal. Older Hyundai and Kia vehicles, particularly those with keyed ignitions rather than push-button starts, lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition. "These rankings highlight the persistent threat of vehicle theft across the country," said NICB President and CEO David J. Glawe.

Social media trends have also played a role in the surge of Hyundai and Kia thefts. Viral videos on TikTok and other platforms have highlighted techniques for exploiting the vehicles' vulnerabilities using USB cables, leading to a 1,000% increase in thefts of affected models since 2020. In response, Hyundai and Kia have rolled out free software updates to add engine immobilizers on vulnerable vehicles.

Earlier this year, the automakers reached a $200 million settlement with vehicle owners, agreeing to compensate customers for prior thefts and provide reimbursement for anti-theft upgrades. Hyundai and Kia have also provided free steering wheel locks to owners who cannot immediately receive the software update. More than 1.1 million Kia vehicles and 1.3 million Hyundai vehicles have had anti-theft measures installed so far.

"In response to this situation, Kia continues to take comprehensive action to enhance the security of our vehicles in an effort to prevent criminals from using methods of theft popularized on social media to break the law and steal or attempt to steal certain vehicle models," said Kia spokesman James Bell. The NICB advises all vehicle owners to take precautions such as always locking doors, removing valuables from cars, and considering aftermarket alarm systems.