Police warn of rise in car thefts in Kia, Hyundai models caused by possible design flaw

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Thefts of two particular car brands have been on the rise after gaining popularity on social media, police say.

In Ohio, the Forest Park Police Department is warning residents of a local increase in car thefts of Kia and Hyundai brand vehicles, similar to instances reported in other cities across the country.

The thefts are mainly of Kia cars newer than 2011 and Hyundai cars newer than 2015.

Police said the thefts have been on the rise nationally after tips showing how to start these cars without the use of a key were posted on social media.

Forest Park police say there were six reported thefts of these vehicle brands since June 21 from large apartment complexes at night.

In statements sent to USA TODAY on Friday, both Kia and Hyundai noted that all of their vehicles "meet or exceed" Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The manufacturers also said that engine immobilizers, or anti-theft systems, are standard equipment for all of their newer cars.

"Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of certain trim level vehicles. As of the current 2022 Model Year, all Kia vehicles have an engine immobilizer fitted as standard," Kia wrote.

"Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts. The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority," Hyundai stated.

In Wisconsin: Over 11,500 vehicles were stolen across the Milwaukee area in 2021. The trend doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon.

In 2021, Milwaukee experienced a wave of car thefts officials attributed to a gang called the “Kia Boys.”

Milwaukee officials said the surge in car thefts was due to more youths being out of school and a design flaw in some newer model cars made by Kia and Hyundai that make them easier to steal.

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Have a new Kia or Hyundai? Here's what to do

Officials are encouraging anyone who owns a 2011 or newer model Kia or a 2015 or newer model Hyundai to follow these safety precautions:

  • Use a steering wheel locking device.

  • Try to park in well-lighted areas.

  • Keep your doors locked at all times.

  • Do not keep personal items or valuables in your car.

  • Consider aftermarket alarm systems or anti-theft devices

  • Report any suspicious activity, especially during evening or overnight hours.

Car theft and COVID-19: Auto theft spikes during the pandemic as cars are left unattended

Contributing: Wyatte Grantham-Philips, USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Thefts of Kia, Hyundai brands are rising; police point to social media