California Cops Urge Kia, Hyundai Owners to Get Anti-Theft Software Update
Local cops in California are warning Hyundai and Kia owners to take steps to protect their cars from being stolen after the automakers declined to recall the vehicles.
The Bakersfield Police Department says it has seen a rise in thefts of certain older Hyundai and Kia vehicles. A string of TikTok videos trending on the social media site have served as a sort of “how to” guide for thieves in California and across the country.
“Three-quarters, maybe half, of stolen vehicles within the last month have been either Kias or Hyundais and it’s something that we have seen as a national trend in the last couple of years,” BPD Chief Greg Terry told a local news outlet over the summer.
Many of the thieves are younger, according to Terry.
“We are seeing a lot of juveniles being arrested,” he said. “Last year, we arrested less than five for thefts of Hyundais or Kias. This year, so far, about 40 have been arrested for these kinds of thefts of these cars.”
Meanwhile, the automakers continue to refuse to recall the cars. Instead, they announced a voluntary service campaign in which car owners can get anti-theft software updated to fend off thieves.
Why Are They Targeting These Specific Vehicles?
The cars have been targeted because they do not have push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices. Once inside the vehicles, all thieves need is a flathead screwdriver and a USB-A cable to make off with the cars.
Hyundai and Kia in May agreed to pay $200 million to settle a class action lawsuit over the rampant thefts of the vehicles. The deal reportedly covers about 9 million U.S. owners and includes up to $145 million for out-of-pocket losses for consumers who had cars stolen.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rejected calls from California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the top lawyers in more than a dozen other states to force Hyundai and Kia to recall the cars. The federal agency in August said its recall standard “does not contemplate actions taken by criminal actors to break open or remove part of the steering column and take out the ignition lock to start a vehicle."
That has left Bakersfield police urging car owners to take advantage of the anti-theft upgrades offered by the automaker.
The BPD is specifically sounding the alarm for owners of the following vehicles
- 2011-2020 Hyundai Elantra
- 2020-2021 Hyundai Venue
- 2012-2021 Hyundai Veloster
- 2018-2022 Hyundai Kona
- 2018-2022 Hyundai Accent
- 2011-2015 Hyundai Tucson
- 2013-2018 Hyundai Sante Fe
- 2015-2021 Kia Forte
- 2015-2021 Kia Optima
- 2015-2021 Kia Rio
- 2015-2021 Kia Sedona
- 2015-2016 Kia Sorento
- 2015-2021 Kia Soul
- 2015-2021 Kia Sportage
More information on the software upgrade, including eligibility and process, can be found here.
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