Recently, there has been a rise in thefts of certain models built by Kia and Hyundai. The increase in thefts is reportedly fueled by a social media TikTok trend that instructed and challenged users to steal the vehicles using a USB charging cable.
Certain Kia models built between 2011-2021, and some Hyundai models built in 2015-2021 are affected by a lack of anti-theft features called engine immobilizers, making the cars easier to steal than other models. Allegedly, this defect in certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles makes them easy to operate without a key and has led to a serious theft problem.
Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for millions of their vehicles that lack immobilizers and will provide the upgrade free of charge to vehicle owners. Visit the NHTSA website for more information. You can read more about suggested measures that Kia and Hyundai owners can take to help with vehicle security here. You can also find information for this software patch from Kia and Hyundai.
As a result of the increased theft rate for these vehicles, some insurers are taking the precaution of not offering comprehensive coverage – which would cover vehicle theft – for the specific year, make, & models of these vehicles. This is not allowed in Maryland and the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) has confirmed that coverage for these vehicles continues to be available from all of their largest insurer groups. If you have been refused coverage because you own a Hyundai or a Kia, you may want to consult the MIA. You may submit your complaint through their website. You can view the MIA’s CONSUMER ALERT here.
In November, the Baltimore Banner published a series of articles and resources addressing the issue of increasing auto theft rates across Baltimore and its impact on residents, including the rise in auto premiums.
For information on preventing auto theft, please visit the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council’s webpage.