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Thefts of some Hyundai, Kia vehicles still happening, even with security fix

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Chuck Peters says it didn’t have to be like this. Thefts of some Kia and Hyundai models made between 2011 and 2020 are increasing.

After Christmas, someone busted the door lock on his daughter’s 2019 Hyundai Tuscon before getting in, busting up the steering column, and — like thousands of others around the country — using a USB port to start the car and drive away.

“The most troubling thing was just the impact it had on her,” Peters said. “I mean, she was just thoroughly traumatized. She didn’t want to get back in that thing after she got it back because it was so wrecked. She just felt personally attacked because somebody had stolen her independence.”

Chuck purchased the Hyundai for his daughter and took it in after the August recall to install anti-theft software. The decals on the windows telling the world a starter inhibitor has been installed, the anti-theft technology would stop any attempt to steal the vehicle — but the car was stolen. The thieves left behind broken parts and an empty parking space.

Police recovered the car, but when Chuck went to get some information from his daughter’s vehicle, he forgot to take the keys.

“What was really troubling for me was when we got the vehicle back, I had to go to the body shop to get some information for our insurance company. I was able to start the vehicle using the USB cable method as well, and that’s exactly what that update is supposed to fix,” he said.

Jeff Kohles is with B Street Collision Center. He said Chuck isn’t alone — the cold weather may have slowed the thefts, but they are still repairing Kias and Hyundais damaged from being stolen.

“We’re still seeing a handful of them here and there,” Kohles said. “It’s the same situation with all of them. The back window is broken out and the steering column has been compromised. Once that happens, you’re able to start the vehicle with a screwdriver or even a USB cord.”

Chuck says the damage and expense left behind was completely unnecessary.

“In Canada, it’s law where they have to have inhibitors on the ignitions, and as a matter of fact, adding insult to injury, this model of vehicle sold in Canada has a mechanical part on it to prevent this from happening, according to what I’ve read online,” he said.

Published reports state that since 2007, the equipment of anti-theft devices on all Canadian vehicles has been mandatory. Hyundai and Kia also are still reportedly facing lawsuits from insurers trying to recover more than $1 billion in losses due to the thefts.

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