BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – California’s attorney general was in Berkeley on Thursday calling on federal regulators to recall Kia and Hyundai vehicles because they don’t have standard anti-theft devices. This, coupled with viral how-to-steal-a-Kia videos, have made them easy targets for theft, and law enforcement says the carmakers are doing little on their own to correct the problem.
Rob Bonta says he and the attorney generals of 17 other states have formed a coalition calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a mandatory recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles that are prone to theft.
“Hyundai and Kia violated federal regulations by producing cars with deficiencies in their starting systems and as a result, sold cars that are extremely vulnerable to theft, including sidestepping anti-theft safety standards that require the key to be present in order for the car to start or move,” Bonta said.
When word got out that the carmakers chose not to make anti-theft devices a standard feature on their cars, TikTok videos started popping up showing people how easy it was to steal these vehicles with a screwdriver and a USB cable.
“We were experiencing a 1 to 2% of our stolen vehicles were Hyundais and Kias to 38%,” said Berkeley Police Chief Jennifer Louis.
Authorities say the carmakers have not done nearly enough to address the issue on their own, which is why they are calling for the recall.
KRON ON is streaming news live now
“The software updates that they’ve offered up to now, they are not sufficient,” Bonta said. “First of all, the updates won’t be available for many vehicles until June. In the meanwhile, though, their cars are vulnerable to the theft that we’re seeing. Second, those software updates are not available at all for approximately 600,000 Hyundai owners.”
The cars impacted were manufactured between 2011 and 2022. The NHTSA blamed the stolen car trend for 14 reported crashes and eight deaths.