Ignition design makes Hyundais and Kias easy to steal with USB cords | I-Team – KSDK.com

July 23, 2022 by No Comments

Automakers have known about the defect and the trend of thefts for at least a year.

ST. LOUIS — Donald Nelson walked out of his Shrewsbury home at about 5 a.m. one morning in June, only to find himself the latest victim of a nationwide trend. Car thieves are exploiting a weakness in the ignition systems of certain popular brands of cars.

It allows criminals to steal thousands of Kias and Hyundais – just like Nelson’s – using nothing more than a USB cord.

“When I came out, I thought I was in the Twilight Zone,” Nelson recalled. “I thought, ‘Maybe I parked my car in a different spot?’”

A quick look at his home surveillance footage answered his question.

His cameras picked up the last few seconds of his 2020 Hyundai Elantra speeding away without Nelson behind the wheel.

“Immediately I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to get to work? Where do I go next? What will happen with my insurance?’” he said.

He learned he’s not alone.

Police across the country say Kias models newer than 2015 and Hyundais newer than 2012 are at risk.

In St. Louis, thefts of those types of cars are up by nearly 400% compared to this time last year, according to St. Louis Police Capt. Janice Bockstruck.

Take Hyundais and Kias out of the city’s equation, and Bockstruck said total car thefts in the city would be down instead of up by 6%.

“That in itself speaks volumes that other makes and models of vehicles are down in our city but Kias and Hyundais are up,” she said.

The Kia Boyz

In some areas, including Milwaukee, Wis., the car thieves named a gang after their favorite brand, calling themselves The Kia Boyz. Members have posted countless videos on social media showing themselves stealing cars and speeding through residential areas.

The City Council in Milwaukee contemplated filing a lawsuit against the automakers saying their vulnerable ignition systems are to blame for the city’s climbing crime rate. A class action lawsuit on behalf of Hyundai and Kia owners has been filed in federal court there, too.

In St. Louis, Bockstruck said many of the thieves are young. She doesn’t believe they are going by the Kia Boyz name or organizing meetups through social media to show off their stolen goods together.

Still, the younger a car thief, the riskier it gets, she said.

“They have less experience driving a vehicle and possibly more courage, so they drive erratically and recklessly throughout the city,” Bockstruck said. “No matter where you live, no matter what community you live in, if you have a Hyundai or a Kia, it’s vulnerable.”

Hyundai and Kia have known about the issue since last year, but Nelson said Hyundai never notified him about the trend.

“It would be nice if they would come out and replace the whole ignition system,” Nelson said.

Police say there is an easier fix, and the problem has forced the companies to change the ignition systems on newer models.

Engine immobilizers

The problem, Bockstruck said, is many of the cars don’t have immobilizing technology, which requires the engine to read a computer chip inside a key to start.

Given the explosion of thefts, Kia and Hyundai have vowed to make the technology …….

Source: https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/investigations/ignition-design-hyundais-kias-easy-steal-usb-cord/63-0c1c1d13-0d72-43aa-841c-06e2db0113fa

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