New York State Attorney General Letitia James has issued a consumer alert today to warn New York State residents about recent thefts targeting Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022. She is urging owners to take immediate action to safeguard their vehicles, which can be stolen using a USB cable and a screwdriver.
The vehicles have faulty ignition switches and a lack of engine immobilizers which makes them vulnerable to thefts, James said. She explained there has been a surge in Hyundai and Kia car thefts caused by “a dangerous viral video trend” on TikTok, where people have uploaded videos showing how to hot-wire these cars and challenge others to steal them.
James urged the car manufacturers to immediately fix safety flaws to prevent the thefts. She also called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall these vehicles.
“When we learn about scams and design flaws that harm New York consumers and car owners, it is important that we slam the brakes on these problems,” James declared. “I urge all New Yorkers, especially those with impacted Hyundai and Kia vehicles, to remain vigilant and follow our important tips to help keep themselves safe.”
Kia and Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 are vulnerable to theft because their ignition switches can be easily bypassed and they lack engine immobilizers, which has allowed thieves to hot-wire the vehicles within minutes. Exploitation of these vulnerabilities were made public through TikTok videos of people showing how to steal Hyundai and Kia cars using simple tools like a USB cable and screwdriver.
As these vulnerabilities spread virally through challenge videos on the internet, thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles has surged, creating significant public safety hazards and property loss.
In Rochester, NY, nearly 75% of cars stolen this year were manufactured by Hyundai and Kia. Similarly, in New York City, more than 100 Hyundai and Kia car thefts were reported in the month of December alone.
Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles have led to millions of dollars in lost and damaged property and have diverted emergency and police resources from other pressing issues, James stated.
These thefts also pose a direct risk to public safety: at least four deaths and numerous injuries have resulted from car accidents following the theft of these vehicles in New York. Hyundai and Kia are in the process of implementing a software patch that will repair their vehicles’ vulnerabilities, but the patch is being rolled out in phases and will not be available for all vehicle models, according to James.
Attorney General James also recommends that owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 to immediately take the following steps to protect themselves against theft:
- Kia owners or lessees should check Kia’s website or call Kia directly to check the status of the vehicle’s eligibility for a software upgrade or free steering wheel lock. Kia’s Customer Care team can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-333-4542 or online via its Owners Portal.
- Hyundai owners or lessees should check Hyundai’s website or call Hyundai directly to check the status of the vehicle’s eligibility for a software upgrade or free steering wheel lock. Hyundai’s customer care agents can be contacted toll-free at 1-888-498-0390 or via their website.
- Immediately contact a Hyundai/Kia dealer to ask about having the software on the vehicle upgraded to repair the vulnerabilities that make the vehicles uniquely prone to car theft.
- Request an anti-theft steering wheel device from Hyundai or Kia if the vehicle is not immediately eligible for a software patch that would repair its vulnerabilities.
- Check postal mail regularly and be aware of any notices from Hyundai, Kia, or government agencies regarding any mandatory or voluntary recalls of vehicles or additional safety measures that may become available for the vehicle.
- If the vehicle has been stolen or it is believed someone has attempted to steal the vehicle, contact the police to report the incident.