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Kias and Hyundais are the most stolen cars in Los Angeles

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

In recent times, an alarming trend has emerged on the streets of Los Angeles, CA, placing car owners on high alert. A significant surge in vehicle thefts has been noted, with Kias and Hyundais becoming the most targeted brands. This worrying development not only raises concerns about vehicle security but also underscores the broader implications for public safety and insurance costs in the region.

At J&Y Law Firm, we are deeply rooted in the community of Los Angeles and are committed to addressing the legal and societal issues that impact our clients and neighbors. In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind the increased theft rates of Kias and Hyundais, explore the consequences for car owners, and provide valuable legal advice for those who have been affected by this unsettling trend.

As legal professionals with extensive experience in automotive law and personal property protection, we understand the distress and inconvenience that car theft can cause. It’s not just a matter of losing a mode of transportation; it’s an invasion of personal security and peace of mind. That’s why we’re here to offer guidance and support to those navigating the aftermath of such incidents in Los Angeles. 

Join us as we explore the factors contributing to this rise in car thefts and discuss how you can protect yourself and seek recourse if you fall victim to this growing crime wave.

Why are Kias and Hyundais the most stolen vehicles in Los Angeles, Ca?

The rise in thefts of Kias and Hyundais, particularly noted in Los Angeles, CA, and other parts of the United States, can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Social Media Challenge: One of the most significant factors contributing to the surge in thefts of these vehicles has been the spread of a social media challenge. Videos circulated on platforms like TikTok have demonstrated how to start these cars using USB cables and other easily accessible tools due to a lack of certain anti-theft features, specifically in models without engine immobilizers.
  2. Lack of Engine Immobilizers: Many of the stolen Kias and Hyundais lack engine immobilizers, a standard anti-theft feature that prevents the engine from starting unless the correct key is present. Older models of these vehicles were often equipped without this feature, making them easier targets for thieves who have learned to exploit this vulnerability.
  3. High Demand for Parts: Kias and Hyundais are popular vehicles, and there is a high demand for their parts on the black market. Thieves often steal cars to strip them down and sell the parts individually, which can be more lucrative than selling the car as a whole.
  4. Economic Factors: Economic hardships and increased unemployment rates can lead to a rise in crime, including car theft. Individuals in desperate situations may resort to stealing vehicles as a quick means to make money.
  5. Community Trends: Once a specific type of car becomes known as an “easy target” among criminal circles, the rate of thefts for that type can increase as more thieves attempt to steal them. This can create a local trend, contributing to the higher theft rates of Kias and Hyundais in particular areas like Los Angeles.

The combination of these factors has led to a noticeable increase in the thefts of Kias and Hyundais in Los Angeles and other cities. Vehicle owners are encouraged to take extra precautions, such as using steering wheel locks, installing aftermarket immobilizers, and parking in secure, well-lit areas to deter theft.

The Kia Challenge

The “Kia Challenge” on social media refers to a trend that gained popularity on platforms such as TikTok, where users post videos demonstrating how to start Kia and Hyundai vehicles without a key. This is typically done using simple tools like USB cables or similar items to exploit vulnerabilities in the ignition systems of certain models, particularly those lacking engine immobilizers—a feature that prevents the engine from being started without the correct key.

The challenge has led to several problems:

  1. Increased Vehicle Thefts: There has been a significant uptick in the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles as the challenge spreads. Individuals, including teenagers and young adults, are replicating the methods shown in these videos, leading to a rise in car thefts in various cities across the United States.
  2. Safety Concerns: The trend has raised serious safety concerns, as stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes or driven recklessly, endangering public safety. There have been reports of accidents and fatalities resulting from the use of stolen vehicles involved in the challenge.
  3. Legal Consequences for Perpetrators: Individuals participating in the Kia Challenge and stealing vehicles face severe legal consequences, including arrest, charges of theft or burglary, and potential jail time. Young participants, in particular, may face juvenile detention or other legal repercussions.
  4. Financial and Emotional Impact on Victims: Owners of stolen Kias and Hyundais suffer financial losses and emotional distress. They may face insurance complications, loss of personal property, and the inconvenience of being without transportation. Additionally, there’s the psychological impact of knowing one’s personal space has been violated.
  5. Increased Insurance Costs: As the theft rates for these vehicles climb, insurance companies may raise premiums for Kia and Hyundai owners, impacting all owners of these brands, not just those directly affected by the thefts.

In response to the challenge and its consequences, both Kia and Hyundai have begun implementing measures to address the security flaws, including providing software updates and urging owners to take additional security precautions. Law enforcement agencies and social media platforms are also working to combat the spread of these harmful trends by removing content related to the challenge and increasing public awareness about the legal and safety risks involved.

Kias response to “The Kia Challenge”

In response to the “Kia Challenge” and subsequent increase in vehicle thefts, Kia and Hyundai have taken several steps like legal settlement and compensation, software updates, and additional security measures. As you can see, this is the main cause of why Kias and Hyundais are the highest on the list for the most stolen vehicles in Los Angeles, Ca. We will discuss these several steps and give details on their plan for changing future theft on their brand.

  1. Legal Settlement and Compensation: Hyundai Motor America and Kia America have resolved class action litigation arising from the vehicle thefts. They agreed to a settlement potentially valued at approximately $200 million, which provides cash compensation for customers who suffered theft-related vehicle losses or damages not covered by insurance. This includes reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other theft-related costs. The settlement also includes reimbursement for anti-theft devices, including steering wheel locks and alarm kits, for eligible vehicle owners. According to kiamedia.com “The settlement includes approximately 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles.” Go to that website, click read more and see if your Kia or Hyundai is affected by this.
  2. Software Updates: Both companies have developed theft deterrent software updates for millions of their vehicles, particularly those lacking an immobilizer. These updates, provided free of charge, modify the theft alarm software logic to extend the alarm duration from 30 seconds to one minute and require the vehicle’s key to be in the ignition switch to turn on the vehicle. The software update is part of Hyundai and Kia’s efforts to enhance vehicle security against the methods of theft popularized on social media. Very important information to note is that on the United States Department of transportation website nhtsa.gov there is an article that gives the phone number you can call to get this free update it is “NHTSA urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (toll-free at 800-633-5151) or Kia (toll-free at 800-333-4542) for information on the FREE update.”
  3. Additional Security Measures: Alongside the software updates, Hyundai and Kia are providing additional security measures. These include distributing over 65,000 steering wheel locks and offering new insurance options through AAA for customers having difficulty maintaining coverage due to the spike in thefts. The companies have also collaborated with law enforcement agencies, providing more than 26,000 steering wheel locks to support vehicle owners in protecting their cars from theft.


As we conclude our examination of the drastic trend of Hyundai and Kia vehicle thefts in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to recognize the broader implications for vehicle owners and the community at large. The rise in these incidents, fueled by viral social media challenges, underscores the importance of staying vigilant and proactive in safeguarding our possessions.

For Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners, this means staying informed about the latest security updates, taking advantage of the free anti-theft software updates, and utilizing physical anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks. Moreover, it’s imperative to stay engaged with community safety programs and local law enforcement efforts to deter vehicle theft.

Remember, the safety of your vehicle is not just about protecting a physical asset, but also about ensuring your peace of mind and the security of your community. If you find yourself a victim of vehicle theft, or if you’re seeking preventive measures, don’t hesitate to reach out for legal support and guidance.

At J&Y Law Firm, we’re committed to assisting our clients through these troubling times with comprehensive legal advice and representation. Should you need assistance or have any questions about vehicle theft, our experienced team is here to help. Together, we can work towards a safer, more secure future for all Los Angeles residents and beyond. Give us a call 24/7 at 323-202-2305 for a free consultation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.