KIA, Hyundai car thefts: Florida police seeing increase in vehicle thefts of older models

Police and sheriff's departments across the country and in Florida are warning drivers about an increase in thefts of KIA and Hyundai vehicles.

According to those agencies, some have said older models of those vehicles are easier for people to steal because they do not have an engine immobilizer, an electronic security feature that – as its name suggests – prevents the engine from starting, and that people have posted videos on social media with instructions on how to steal a vehicle.

"FYI: This is happening across the country, including in our area. Cars from Kia (2012 and newer) and Hyundai (2015 and newer) are especially susceptible to theft," the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said in a tweet earlier this week, linking to a news article about an alleged vehicle theft in Atlanta.

Orlando police confirmed its agency has seen an increase in thefts involving both models of vehicles, but did not provide specific details.

"Unfortunately, it seems like when people put out on social media, whether through TikTok, YouTube or any other channel, that something is easy to steal, criminals try to steal it," the Orange County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. 

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Law enforcement says that KIA and Hyundai models are easier to steal because they lack an engine immobilizer, which provides extra security. 

Florida isn't alone in seeing an increase in these thefts as this is happening nationwide. Law enforcement in St. Paul, Minnesota said KIA car thefts have gone up 1,300%. Lauren Hernandez, who lives in Minneapolis, told FOX 9 her KIA has been stolen twice and broken into once this year alone.

"We would joke that lightning would not strike three times, but I just feel super unlucky," said Hernandez. "It actually spent like more than 30 days in repairs because 56, the shop that I went to, had so many stolen KIAs that they couldn't get parts in time to fix mine." 

In a statement, KIA said it was "aware of the rise in vehicle thefts" in the area, and that all of its 2022 model vehicles have engine immobilizers as a standard feature.

How can you protect your vehicle? Experts recommended buying a steering wheel lock.