Raoul urges Kia, Hyundai to take ‘comprehensive action’ over Chicago-area car thefts

Last year, 10% of all registered Kia vehicles and 7% of all registered Hyundai vehicles in Chicago were stolen, according to Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul’s office.

SHARE Raoul urges Kia, Hyundai to take ‘comprehensive action’ over Chicago-area car thefts
Red crime scene tape is seen lit up from a car’s headlights.

Sun-Times file

A coalition of attorneys general — including Illinois Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul — urged Kia and Hyundai to take “comprehensive action” over Chicago-area car thefts.

Kia and Hyundai recently announced a customer service campaign to upgrade the software of affected vehicles.

Kia says it has directly contacted more than 1.1 million owners and lessees of impacted Kia vehicles to “let them know of the availability of the software upgrade and to advise them to schedule a free installation at any Kia dealer,” according to a statement released by the automaker. Kia was expected to contact more than 2 million owners and lessees by the end of March.

Hyundai has reached out to more than 1 million owners and lessees about its own free software update, according to a statement from the company.

But Raoul and the coalition said in a letter that the plan was “insufficient, incomplete and long overdue.”

“I urge Kia and Hyundai to accelerate a software upgrade to ensure consumers’ vehicles are properly equipped to guard against theft,” Raoul said in a statement. “I stand committed to protecting consumers and our communities, and I urge these car companies to do their part to prevent these thefts.”

Raoul and the coalition of attorneys general said that Kia and Hyundai “chose not to include anti-theft immobilizers as standard equipment on several vehicle models sold in the United States, despite including the immobilizers on the same affected models sold in other countries.”

“As a result, the number of thefts and the use of stolen vehicles to commit other thefts in the U.S. significantly increased,” according to a press release from the attorney general’s office.

A TikTok social media challenge put a spotlight on the vehicles’ lack of an immobilizer and resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The challenge shows TikTok viewers how to hot-wire Kia and Hyundai cars with a USB cord and a screwdriver.

Last year, there were more than 7,000 Hyundai and Kia thefts in Chicago, which account for 10% of all registered Kia vehicles and 7% of all registered Hyundai vehicles in the city, according to the attorney general’s office.

In response to the comments made by the coalition, Kia said it was “committed to working with officials and with law enforcement agencies at the state and local level to ensure vehicle security.”

“In addition to this [software] upgrade, we have already provided more than 23,000 steering wheel locks to over 120 law enforcement agencies across the country for them to distribute — at no cost — to impacted owners,” the statement said. “We will continue to make these locks available as they are needed.”

Hyundai also initiated a program to begin reimbursement to eligible customers for their purchase of steering wheel locks.

The company has shipped more than 40,000 steering wheel locks to more than 370 law enforcement agencies and will “continue to provide free steering wheel locks to them for distribution to residents who own or lease affected models.”

In September the Highway Loss Data Institute, a unit of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, found that Hyundais and Kias without immobilizers had a vehicle theft claim rate of 2.18 per 1,000 insured vehicle years. The rest of the industry combined had a rate of 1.21. An insured vehicle year is equal to one vehicle insured for one year.

The institute compared vehicles from the 2015 through 2019 model years. It studied vehicle theft claims from 2021. Hyundai says all models produced after Nov. 1, 2021, have immobilizers as standard equipment.

Insurance giants State Farm and Progressive temporarily stopped accepting new customer applications in some states for certain models made by both brands because of the thefts.

Contributing: Associated Press

The Latest
While there’s tons of excitement for Black Pumas, Grandmaster Flash, Carly Rae Jepsen and Alanis Morissette, you oughta know these up-and-comers, too.
Flavio Tovar, 26, was wounded in a shooting about 11:30 p.m. on July 3 in 6500 block of South Western Avenue. He is the 22nd person killed in shootings over the Fourth of July extended holiday weekend.
Lawyers for Trump had argued that special counsel Jack Smith was illicitly appointed and that his office was improperly funded by the Justice Department.
U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle issued a statement saying security in Milwaukee has been beefed up.
Achilles C. Beasley, 18, was sitting in a vehicle in the 1800 block of West 88th Street about 6:05 p.m. Sunday when he was hit in the leg by gunfire, police said. He died at a hospital.