As Kia and Hyundai thefts spike in St. Louis, the companies say a fix is coming
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As the thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles spiked in the latter half of last year, the two companies said they are seeking possible technological solutions.
Both companies said a software update is coming to curb thefts, Kia said in a statement they’re testing enhanced security software to restrict the vehicle’s ignition on vulnerable models.
But some, like Shannon Morris, who had her 2018 Kia Optima stolen last fall, are skeptical.
“Kia has started notifying owners of certain models of the availability of this software upgrade at no cost, and Kia anticipates that it will make software upgrades available for most affected vehicles over the next few months.”
After months of back and forth with her insurance, she now has a Buick SUV and doesn’t plan on going back to Kia.
“I don’t want to ride in a car with somebody that has a Kia, I’m not comfortable parking my car or being in a car with somebody who is going to park next to a Kia. I kind of just stay away from it because they’re like a target,” said Morris.
Numbers show that they appear to be a target.
Data from St. Louis County shows sometime in the spring and summer Kia and Hyundai thefts drastically picked up.
In the last six months of the year, those two brands accounted for 64% of stolen cars in the county. Nearly 4,000 of those two makes were stolen from St. Louis City in 2022. Over 400 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were taken in January.
In Metro East, it’s a similar story, with nearly 40% of the vehicles recovered being Kia or Hyundai vehicles in the last three months.
But the companies are insisting a fix is coming this year.
“Kia has started notifying owners of certain models of the availability of this software upgrade at no cost, and Kia anticipates that it will make software upgrades available for most affected vehicles over the next few months,” said a statement from Kia.
Morris doesn’t buy it.
“I just don’t trust the brand no more,” said Morris.
She believes the thieves will stay a step ahead.
“But if they were to figure out this software, what makes you think they’re not going to figure out the new software and if they can’t, they’re going to try to figure it out, so you’re still a target,” said Morris.
Both companies said they’ll be giving police department steering wheel locks for Kia and Hyundai drivers. As of now, neither St. Louis City or St. Louis County would tell News 4 if they’ve been given locks.
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