RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina is joining another 22 states in demanding that Kia and Hyundai better address the crisis of their cars easily being stolen — as companies are refusing to insure or are restricting coverage on the cars.
The rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts is connected to a viral TikTok challenge that shows people how to use a USB cable to start the cars without a key.
Already, the Minnesota Attorney General is launching an investigation into the thefts. The Wisconsin Attorney General has also called on the car companies to take action.
Monday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the car thefts “are connected to other crimes, injuries, and even deaths, further endangering the public.”
Last month, two boys, ages 14 and 15, crashed off the Interstate-94 overpass in Minneapolis as they sped away at 94 mph in a stolen Kia SUV, according to WCCO.
In the Charlotte area, 80 percent of all stolen cars in 2022 were Kia or Hyundai models, according to a news release from Stein.
A letter from Wisconsin officials Monday said Stein pointed out some of the wild and deadly incidents involving the cars once they were stolen.
In one example, a teen was killed after stealing a Kia Sportage and fleeing police before colliding with another car.
In another stolen car, four teens were killed after the Kia they were riding in hit an embankment at high speed, the letter said.
“Thieves have also used stolen Hyundais or Kias to smash through the walls of businesses in order to rob them,” officials said in the letter.
“Kia and Hyundai chose not to include anti-theft immobilizers as standard equipment on several models sold in the United States when every other car manufacturer was doing so, even though Kia and Hyundai were including immobilizers on models sold in Canada and Europe,” Stein said in the news release.
The ease of theft has triggered some insurance companies to refuse insurance or restrict car coverage, Stein said.
These insurance problems “may create more hardships for car owners in North Carolina, where insurance is required to operate a vehicle,” Stein said in the release.
The companies have since put out software updates to prevent the thefts of “some of the affected vehicle models,” according to Stein.
Wisconsin officials also said the software upgrade will not be available for most of the affected models until June and the software upgrade cannot be installed on specific 2011-22 models for technical reasons.
The Wisconsin Attorney General’s letter to the companies, which Stein signed along with 21 other states, pointed out the massive problem.
In 2020 there were 895 thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in Milwaukee. In 2021, there were 6,970. While thefts slightly declined in Milwaukee in 2022, there were still six Hyundai and Kia vehicles being stolen every day as of the end of September of last year, according to the letter from Wisconsin officials.