Police: Social media trend increases Kia and Hyundai car thefts in November

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 7:54 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Police Department said it believes it is seeing an increase in car thefts for two specific makes of cars during November because of posts made on social media.

Four out of 6 cars, according to a department spokesperson, were stolen in November and showed signs of damage consistent with videos on social media showing people how to steal a car with a USB cord and screwdriver. Multiple law enforcement agencies in other states have warned Kia and Hyundai drivers about the same trend throughout 2022.

CRPD said the trend affects Kia and Hyundai cars from 2010 to 2020, which need keys to start ignitions rather than pushing a button.

Mike Battien, who is the Public Safety Communications Specialist for the city of Cedar Rapids, said the number of Kia and Hyundai stolen is fewer than 10% of cars reported stolen in Cedar Rapids. He said social media posts showing people how to steal cars are irresponsible in an email.

“While the social media trend is alarming, the simple truth is many more cars are stolen because keys are left in the ignition, doors are unlocked and frequently, cars are left unattended and running,” he wrote. “The most effective barriers to vehicle theft are locked doors, hidden or removed valuables and vigilance to your personal property.”

Both Hyundai and Kia said they are concerned in similar written statements to TV9 and mentioned they provide interested law enforcement agencies with steering wheel locks to give to consumers. No law enforcement agency in Iowa has requested the gear, according to both corporations.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office along with the Dubuque Police Department and Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office said they haven’t seen an increase in Kia and Hyundai car thefts. A spokesperson for the Cedar Rapids Police Department said KIA or Hyundai never reached out to them about the program and weren’t aware of the resource until TV9 brought it to their attention.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department recommends people install a steering wheel immobilizer, remove valuable items from a vehicle and call their dealer about possible fixes.

Ira Gabriel, who is a senior group manager for Hyundai, said the company has created a glass break sensor security kit to stop the method thieves use in the videos posted online. He said people can purchase the kit at Hyundai dealerships for $170 and those cars don’t need a recall because they meet or exceed all Federal Motor Vehicle Standards.

“These thefts are not related to a vehicle part defect and the kit (part cost and installation labor) is an option for a customer to consider,” Gabriel said.

TV9 also found a federal class action lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai with a plaintiff in Iowa. According to court documents, the company hasn’t filed an answer to the suit yet and still has time to file based on deadlines set by the court.