Phoenix Sees 719% Increase in Kia Thefts, 412% for Hyundai in 2023


Car thefts of two kinds of vehicles in Phoenix have skyrocketed due to a social media trend showing how easily they can be broken into.

The Phoenix Police Department released crime statistics showing violent crimes are slightly lower in the first half of the year compared to the same time in 2022. Property crimes are also down by 10% overall.

The department considers burglary, theft, arson and motor vehicle theft in the category of property crimes. All of those dropped except for stolen vehicles, up 4% on the year compared to the first half of last year.

Of the vehicles stolen, all measured model theft had fallen with the exception of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

“This increase is, in part, is believed to be associated with a social media trend involving the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles,” the report said. “Had the number of Kia and Hyundai thefts remained the same as 2022, overall auto thefts would have decreased by 24%.”

From Jan. 1 to July 31, Kia-model vehicles saw a 719% increase in the number of cars stolen. Hyundai owners saw a 412% spike in their cars being stolen.

The report considered the possibility that car thieves chose Kia and Hyundai makes over other vehicles, which would explain the drop in thefts for other makes and the increase in Kia and Hyundai makes.

Earlier this year, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes joined 17 other attorneys general in calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to force the two carmakers to recall vehicles with the vulnerability to theft.

“Hyundai and Kia's failure to adequately address their vehicles' alarming theft rate is unacceptable and harmful to consumers,” she said. “I urge the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take swift action and institute a recall of these unsafe vehicles, which have not only harmed car owners but also consumed valuable law enforcement resources.”

The carmakers agreed in May to a $200 million settlement with car owners over the thefts.

The stealing frenzy is fueled by a social media trend on TikTok showing the two car types, both manufactured by Hyundai, lack a security mechanism called an engine immobilizer that disables the vehicle if the ignition is tampered with.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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