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Raoul, 21 other attorneys general urge Kia and Hyundai to do more to stop car thefts

22 states push for Kia & Hyundai to do more to stop thefts
22 states push for Kia & Hyundai to do more to stop thefts 00:26

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is joining more than 20 other state attorneys general to call on Kia and Hyundai to take more steps to prevent a surge of auto thefts tied to a TikTok challenge.

Thousands of Kia and Hyundai owners have had their cars stolen in recent months. Kia and Hyundai models made between 2010 and 2021 were not equipped with "engine immobilizers," an anti-theft device that the states say were standard on other new cars during that period. The immobilizers prevent a car from running without a key or fob.

Last year alone, more than 7,000 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in Chicago, accounting for about 10% of all registered Kias and 7% of all registered Hyundais in the city, according to Raoul's office.

Data from Chicago police show Kias and Hyundais made up 38 percent of all motor vehicle thefts in the city last year.

The vulnerability of some Hyundai and Kia vehicles emerged in TikTok videos that show how to steal the cars using a USB cord and a screwdriver. 

Since a surge in thefts of the vulnerable Kia and Hyundai models, the South Korean automakers have rolled out more anti-theft software, but the attorneys general are pushing for them to do more.

"I urge Kia and Hyundai to accelerate a software upgrade to ensure consumers' vehicles are properly equipped to guard against theft. Additionally, these companies need to provide free alternate protective measures to owners with vehicles that cannot support the software upgrade," Raoul said. "I stand committed to protecting consumers and our communities, and I urge these car companies to do their part to prevent these thefts."

The software being released updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.

About 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are eligible for the software update, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Hyundai says all models produced after Nov. 1, 2021, have immobilizers as standard equipment.

Insurance companies have taken notice of the elevated theft rates. State Farm said in January that it has temporarily stopped offering insurance for some model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in some states because thieves were targeting the cars.

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