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Can 2022 cars be stolen?

Hyundai and Kia Thefts Soar in Chicago, What Can Drivers Do To Protect Themselves?

Thousands of vehicles stolen across Chicago, all because of a serious flaw hidden inside. Is your car a target? Here’s what you should do.

By Lisa Parker, Tom Jones and Kamy Smelser • Published January 4, 2023 • Updated on January 9, 2023 at 2:57 pm

The accident is the latest example of how the hidden security flaw is impacting local drivers.

In fact, in the month of November 2022 alone, Hyundai and Kia thefts amounted to more than half, or 59%, of all Chicago motor vehicle thefts recorded, according to data reviewed from the Chicago Police Department.

That CPD data shows out of 2,003 motor vehicle thefts reported last November, 1,180 of those thefts involved Hyundai or Kia vehicles. (These figures do not include vehicle hijackings)

Some experts believe this theft wave could have been preventable.

A study from the Highway Loss and Data Institute found among vehicles made in 2015, “immobilizers were standard on 96% of other manufacturers’ vehicles” while “standard on only 26% of Hyundai and Kia vehicle models.”

Neither Hyundai or Kia would respond to questions about the HLDI study’s findings, but both said they are now installing immobilizers on new vehicles.

Spokespeople for both companies told NBC 5 all Hyundai and Kia vehicles “meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” and that both companies “remain concerned about the increase in thefts of certain vehicles that have been targeted in a coordinated social media campaign.”

Both automakers say they are working on a software update for targeted vehicles, and that it’s expected to be available in the first half of 2023. No exact date for when that will be available has been shared.

For the time being, drivers are left with few options to prevent these thefts from happening.

Hyundai told NBC 5 it has offered a glass break sensor security kit for drivers, but its retail value is around $170, not including installation costs.

The only free option available to Kia and Hyundai drivers is a steering wheel lock offered by the automakers through certain law enforcement agencies they have partnered with.

NBC 5 Responds asked Hyundai for a list of law enforcement agencies it says it has partnered with, but it repeatedly declined to release a list of agencies offering these locks.

A Hyundai spokesperson said, “not every law enforcement agency has authorized Hyundai to share their participation in the wheel lock program.”

The automaker did reveal that it has only partnered with 120 law enforcement agencies nationwide, 21of which are in Illinois.

Independently, NBC 5 confirmed four local agencies participating: Chicago, Aurora, Matteson and Lincolnwood Police Departments.

In order for a driver to be eligible for a steering wheel lock from these agencies, the driver must have proof that the vehicle is registered to an address in the city the agency covers, as well as proof of ownership of a Hyundai vehicle.

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Chicago drivers are encouraged to contact their local Community Policing Offices to learn more about the steering wheel lock program. (You can find your district office here)

A spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department said it has a limited number of steering wheel locks available, and if Aurora drivers are interested, they should call the Department’s Front Desk at (630) 256-5000.

Matteson and Lincolnwood Police also indicated they have a limited number of steering wheel locks available for Hyundai drivers, and those drivers are encouraged to contact each Department’s front desk or non-emergency phone line.

Both Kia and Hyundai have encouraged drivers to contact their customer assistance centers for more information on options to secure these impacted vehicles.

  • Kia Consumer Assistance Center: 1-800-333-4542
  • Hyundai Customer Care Center: 1-800-633-5151

Hyundai, Kia pushing updates so you can’t just steal their cars with USB cables

The updates, rolling out for more than 8 million cars, also come with stickers.

Kevin Purdy — Feb 15, 2023 5:03 pm UTC

A Hyundai with its steering column opened as part of a theft.

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After months of thefts that have led to at least eight deaths, car makers Hyundai and Kia are offering free software updates to roughly 8.3 million cars that can be stolen with the aid of a USB-A cable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that the manufacturers’ updates make it so affected cars require a key to be in the ignition switch to start. The cars’ no-key alarms will also sound for one minute instead of 30 seconds. The updates should start arriving later this month, with phased rollouts over subsequent months for 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias.

According to news reports and at least one class-action lawsuit, the most-affected vehicles are Kias made between 2010 and 2021 and Hyundais produced between 2015 and 2021. Thieves typically break a back window to avoid alarms, expose the steering column, and fit a USB-A cable into a matching plug. Turning the plug with an inserted cable starts the car because the cars lack an engine immobilizer that prevents the engine from starting without a paired key.

By 2015, engine immobilizers were standard on 96 percent of most manufacturers’ vehicles, according to a September 2022 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but they were only installed on 26 percent of Hyundais and Kias. The 2022 models produced by both companies now have engine immobilizers. The theft rate for cars without immobilizers was 2.18 per year per 1,000 insured vehicles, versus 1.21 for the industry average for 2015–2019.

The relative ease of theft might have gone unnoticed if not for the «Kia Challenge,» a 2022 TikTok trend showing the methods and celebrating thefts and joyrides. The NHTSA attributes 14 reported crashes and eight deaths to the viral challenge. While there are no nationwide numbers for thefts and related crimes, they’re notable.

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In Buffalo, New York, where a Kia joyride last fall killed four teenagers, Kia thefts went from 55 in 2020 to 275 in 2022, and there were 141 Hyundai thefts, according to the Buffalo News. In Washington, DC, 31 percent of all 393 vehicle thefts in a roughly three-week period in January involved Kias and Hyundais, city police told DC News Now. Insurance firms, including State Farm and Progressive, have stopped accepting new insurance policies for many of the affected Hyundai and Kia models.

One Ars staffer had his own Hyundai stolen (pictured at top) as part of the wave of thefts. It took roughly two months for the car to be returned, as replacement ignition parts were back-ordered at local repair shops. An insurance adjuster told the staffer that one customer had a car stolen three times in succession because the car was only restored to its pre-theft condition after each theft.

Both automakers have offered free steering wheel locks to affected customers, sometimes working with local law enforcement agencies. Hyundai also noted in NHTSA’s statement that it would issue stickers to car owners that will prominently display the car’s updated status. The software updates will require visiting a dealer for installation; Hyundai reports the installation takes about an hour. Information on the updates is available by calling Hyundai at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542.

Most Stolen Cars in the US for 2023

I. Mitic Image

Car theft is surging in cities across the United States. But some models are more popular than others. So if you own any of the vehicles on our list of the most stolen cars in the US or if you’re considering an auto loan to purchase one, you might want to make sure your doors are locked.

How Many Cars Have Been Hot-Wired?

According to statistics from the FBI, there were 719,552 vehicles that were stolen in the United States in 2019. These alarming statistics have only been exacerbated by the socio-economic instability brought on by the pandemic.

And even though recent years haven’t been as bad as the thriving auto theft days of the 1980s, many major cities are witnessing an increased number of stolen cars.

That’s why it’s important to make sure that your vehicle is insured, protected and difficult to steal. You can’t afford to let your guard down, and investing in vehicle security is imperative. Everything from alarm systems to wheel locks is worth considering if you want peace of mind.

What Are the Most Stolen Cars in America?

Let’s take a closer look at some car brands that are commonly targeted by thieves in the US.

Ford Pickup

In 2021, the Ford F-Series sold 877,720 units, accounting for more than 14% of the global market share. This has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for the last four decades, but it’s also the number 1 most stolen car in America.

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In 2020, the total number of Ford F-series thefts stood at 44,014, which marked a 13% increase from the year before. The most popular model among thieves is the 2006 F-series truck.


In addition to being a very popular car brand, the Honda Civic 2000 model is also highly vulnerable. 34,144 units of this vehicle were stolen in 2020 alone.

Honda lacks some of the more advanced anti-theft technology found in modern cars. Moreover, there are a lot of Honda vehicles in circulation across the country, and different models use some of the same parts.

This makes Honda a lucrative grab for chop shops and certainly explains why this brand is near the top of our list of the most stolen vehicles in the US.

Chevy Silverado

This is becoming one of the most popular vehicles among car thieves, with a 26.7% spike in the number of stolen Chevrolet pickups between 2019 and 2020. The pickup stands out thanks to its powerful engine and great towing capacity. The 2004 model is one of the cars most likely to be stolen.

Toyota Camry

The Camry is the best-selling family sedan in the US, and shifts in consumer preferences haven’t impacted its status as an efficient and safe vehicle.

For car thieves, this translates into both demand and plenty of opportunities because a lot of people own a Toyota Camry, and many of them need spare parts.

With nearly 17,000 units snatched in 2020, this is among the most popular stolen cars in the country.

Nissan Altima

Economical and uncomplicated, the Altima is one of Nissan’s crown jewels. But this five-passenger and four-door sedan hasn’t been overlooked by car thieves who stole more than 14,600 of them in a single year. The 2020 version is especially popular among criminals and buyers.

GMC Pickup

GMC is no longer associated with working-class trucks. This is now a luxury brand that produces pricey, high-end pickups with advanced features.

In other words, this is a big payday in the underworld. The most popular target for criminals is the 2005 model year.

Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is perhaps best known for its value and for being a fuel-efficient compact sedan. This has contributed to high sales figures and, by extension, to a high number of thefts.

In 2020, there were more than 12,500 units stolen, with the newer models emerging as some of the most frequently stolen cars.

Dodge Pickup

By now, you’ve probably realized that heavy-duty vehicles tend to attract all sorts of unwanted attention. When it comes to this particular pickup, the most stolen iteration among the 11,991 units that were snatched is the 2001 model year. It’s not hard to explain these trends.

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The 2001 version is no longer being produced, and as such, there is a serious shortage of engine parts on the market. As is the case with all popular but discontinued models, car thieves are simply responding to the market demand.

How to Protect Your Car from Being Stolen

Regardless of what type of vehicle you have, there is a chance that it can end up being stolen. This is why it’s important to shield your car from criminal elements that are becoming increasingly sophisticated in hot-wiring some of the most secure models on the market.

Below are different steps you can take to protect your vehicle from being stolen:

  1. Install a tracking system so that you know where your vehicle is at all times.
  2. Consider getting a vehicle immobilizer system installed.
  3. Install an anti-theft device and an audible alarm system so that you are immediately alerted if anyone tries to break into your vehicle.
  4. Park in areas that are well-lit, making it more difficult for someone to steal your car.
  5. Close the windows — you may be surprised to hear that many people accidentally leave their car windows open, making the job for criminals that much easier.
  6. Do not leave your spare keys anywhere near your vehicle.
  7. Make sure your keys are removed from your vehicle at all times, even if you’re just running into a nearby grocery store to grab some milk.
  8. Always double-check that your car doors are locked. Remember, you don’t want to make life easier for the criminals.

Final Words

Armed with the knowledge about some of the most stolen cars in the US, you are now aware of both the risks to your vehicle and certain measures you can take to alleviate those risks.

Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what kind of car you drive. It’s important to employ the different security systems to keep your vehicle out of the hands of criminals.


What is the number 1 stolen car in America?


The number 1 most stolen car in America is the Ford F-series pickup, with 44,014 units of this vehicle stolen in 2020. The second most stolen car is the Chevrolet pickup (40,968 units), followed by the Honda Civic (34,144) and the Toyota Camry, with 16,915 units stolen in 2020.

Which cars are least likely to be stolen?


Tesla vehicles are among the cars that are least likely to be stolen, according to a study that was carried out by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

What state has the most stolen cars?


California leads the way when it comes to motor vehicle theft, with an average of 155,211 vehicles stolen per year. This is considerably more than Texas, which is in second place, with 69,817 vehicles stolen. Florida is in third place with 41,165 vehicles stolen. Furthermore, there are 27,677 vehicles stolen in Washington every year.

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What city in the US has the highest rate of car theft?


Considering that California has the most stolen cars, it’s not surprising that the highest number of vehicles are stolen in Bakersfield, CA. This city just north of Los Angeles is followed by Yuba City, CA, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO, and finally, Odessa, TX.

Are white cars more likely to be stolen?


Research shows that color matters to car thieves. Silver is apparently the most popular color because it’s associated with both luxury and speed. White is second on that list, followed by black, gold, and green.

About author

I. Mitic

I. Mitic

For years, the clients I worked for were banks. That gave me an insider’s view of how banks and other institutions create financial products and services. Then I entered the world of journalism. Fortunly is the result of our fantastic team’s hard work. I use the knowledge I acquired as a bank copywriter to create valuable content that will help you make the best possible financial decisions.

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