JACKSONVILLE, Florida. More than half a million vehicles in Florida are at high risk of theft, according to a new Carfax report.
Last summer, News4JAX first reported on a viral social media trend encouraging people to steal certain Hyundai and Kias vehicles with just a USB cable.
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Carfax estimates that nearly 5 million owners still need to get their cars fixed to prevent this from happening to them. It is easy for criminals to steal some Kias and Hyundai cars.
Portia Minton knows this all too well.
“My mom woke up and said, Portia, your car is not on the street,” she said. “What was I?! It’s not outside?! I ran outside. I just watched where I parked. I’m like, “Okay, is this a prank?” And it wasn’t like that.”
Two months ago, she told News4JAX that thieves stole her Hyundai sedan from her home in Jacksonville. The police later found it, but it was damaged.
This is due to a trend on social media showing people how easy it is to plug in these cars and take them for fun rides or use them in crime. The criminals involved were dubbed the “Kia Boys”.
“So the affected vehicles are in service from 2010 to 2022,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of Carfax. “And they affect quite a wide range of Hyundai and Kia vehicles and SUVs, from the Kia Soul to the Hyundai Palisade. So that’s a pretty broad list of cars. This is very typical for Hyundai and Kia models, which do not have a start button. These are models that use a key to start the car.”
Olsen said his company has teamed up with Hyundai and Kia to spread the word about the fix. Anyone who owns affected vehicles can get a software fix for something called an immobilizer that only allows a real key with a security code to start the ignition.
“It takes about an hour for a mechanic to fix it,” Olsen added. “So all they can do is call the local dealer. It doesn’t have to be the dealer they bought it from.”
Carfax estimates that more than 4.9 million Americans need this fix.
Florida ranks second with 502,000 vulnerable vehicles. Georgia ranks seventh with 192,000.
Korean automakers recently agreed to pay $200 million in compensation for the production of cars subject to theft. The class action lawsuit entitles owners to up to $6,125 in damages if their vehicle was stolen or damaged.
If you’re wondering if your car is affected, it will be Kia or Hyundai made between 2011 and 2022 with turnkey ignition. You can go to any dealership or enter the VIN on CARFAX.com for a free check.
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