Hyundai and Kia cars and SUVs are being stolen at twice the rate of the rest of the auto industry because their keys lack computer chips for theft “immobilizer” systems, the Associated Press reports. Hyundais and Kias without immobilizer technology had a higher vehicle theft claim rate per 1,000 insured vehicle years than the rest of the industry combined, according to a report from the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The process is simple. Immobilizer systems disrupt the hacking process. Chip keys talk to chip in a car’s ignition, and engines start if they match. If they don’t, the car can’t start. This style of exploit theft apparently started two years ago around Milwaukee and spread to multiple Midwest cities and Colorado and New Mexico after instructional videos on how to take advantage of the vulnerability appeared online. In Milwaukee, 6,048 cars have been stolen in 2022 through Sept. 12, and 58 percent were Hyundais or Kias.