Woman's stolen Kia stolen again, twice, even after security "fix"

A Milwaukee woman complains that her twice-stolen Kia has been stolen yet again, even after a security upgrade to the car. "And then after it was stolen the first time," Trisha Nyguen said, "then, I found out about Kia boys." Kias are so easy to steal that stealing them is a social media challenge.

Nguyen is even more frustrated this time because she says she installed the anti-theft software upgrade that Kia said would prevent this crime from happening. "I was initially told that the car could only start with a key ignition," Nguyen said. "But that's not the case because they broke the steering column again and started it with a USB cord."Back in October, WTMJ spoke with the project manager for Kia's anti-theft program who explained how the software upgrade is supposed to work. "This software update makes it so that even if they try to plug that USB port in, it's not going to disable the ignition immobilizer," Emily Falecki said. "It's going to keep that intact and it is going to sound the factory alarm."

Hyundais are just as bad. The problem is systematic and the result of the automakers intentionally cutting corners. The AP reports that the supposed fixes are not doing the trick and the companies are reduced to asking social media companies to remove videos that describe the hacks.

The companies' affected cars, many of them lower-cost models from the 2011 to early 2022 model years, were not equipped with a theft immobilizer. Such a device contains a computer chip in the key that must be recognized by another chip in the steering column before the engines will start.

Though most automakers have had the chips for years, Hyundai and Kia have lagged behind the industry as a whole in installing them on many models, thereby allowing thieves to exploit the security gap. In the 2015 model year, immobilizers were standard on 96% of other manufacturers' models but on only 26% of Hyundai and Kia models, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said.

Auto insurers have fixed the problem, though, at least from their perspective. Some are refusing to insure the vehicles outright.

Progressive and State Farm, two of America's largest auto insurers, are refusing to write policies in certain cities for some older Hyundai and Kia models that have been deemed too easy to steal, according to the companies. Several reports say the companies have stopped offering insurance on these vehicles in cities that include Denver, Colorado and St. Louis, Missouri. The insurance companies did not tell CNN which cities or states were involved.