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Why some Kia and Hyundai vehicles top Denver’s most stolen list

Security kit now being shipped to dealerships
hyundai kia.png
Posted at 6:33 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 20:56:04-04

DENVER — Colorado is No. 1 in the nation for car thefts, with more cars stolen per capita than any other state in the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In Denver, auto thefts have skyrocketed with a 160% increase since 2018, and Hyundai and Kia models make up most of those. But why do the Korean automakers top Denver’s most stolen list? And what is being done?

What's going on?

These vehicles are being targeted by thieves in part due to the ease with which they can be taken. Simply using a USB stick, thieves are able to take advantage of a missing anti-theft device in some models of Hyundai and Kia.

An insurance industry group says these cars are stolen at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the auto industry because their keys lack computer chips for theft “immobilizer” systems.

Why some Kia and Hyundai vehicles top Denver’s most stolen list

Chip keys, which started to show up in the 1990s, communicate with another chip in the ignition switch. If they match, the engines will start. If they don't match, a thief can't start the engine.

Keys don’t have an immobilizer system in several lower-priced versions of vehicles from the two South Korean automakers such as the Kia Rio and Sportage and the Hyundai Accent.

Thieves found this vulnerability out the thefts apparently started in the Milwaukee area two years ago and spread on social media to multiple cities, including Denver.

Higher insurance rates and denials impact Hyundai and Kia owners

And now owners of these vehicles are facing more problems after at least one major insurance company says the risk is too high to insure them.

Progressive Insurance said it has restricted offering coverage on new policies in the Denver area on certain models of the Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia because of the alarming rate by which these vehicles are getting stolen in the Denver area.

Progressive did not provide specific details on these new restrictions, including years or models impacted.

Denver Hyundai and Kia owners are also seeing an increase in premiums from insurance companies.

Carole Walker with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association said it’s unfortunate for owners of these vehicles, but insurance companies need to contain risk to keep premium costs low for their other customers.

“They're also looking at the market that we're in,” Walker said in August. “Colorado now tops the list for auto theft. So, your car insurance company is looking at that risk, determining the premium, how much it will cost to repair and replace that vehicle, but also how likely is it to get stolen, and then destroyed or damaged when it is stolen.”

Walker talked to Anne Trujillo Tuesday regarding insurance issues some owners are facing. Watch the video below:

Carole Walker with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association

What's being done?

The automakers are now shipping repair kits to dealerships nationwide. The kits are being offered through a third-party company called Compustarand owners will have to pay $170 for the kit and installation, Forbes reported.

The company said it’s also working to provide steering wheel locks at no cost to authorities in affected areas to deter thefts.

The Associated Press contributed to the story