Hyundai and Kia Dominate Last Year's Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles List

Hyundai and Kia Vehicles 11 photos
Photo: Hyundai Motor Group | Edited
Kia Anti-Theft Logic StickerHyundai Anti-Theft Logic Sticker"Hacked" Hyundai"Hacked" HyundaiThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Damaged Kia Soul2024 Hyundai Tucson
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data says that vehicle theft in the US is a multi-billion dollar affair. In 2022, thieves fraudulently got their hands on over $44 billion worth of automobiles. The trend continued in 2023, and a recent National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that thieves preferred sedans instead of pickup trucks.
More specifically, these nefarious actors chose Hyundais and Kias. If you're familiar with the "Kia Boyz," then this statistic won't surprise you. However, it reveals what rides could be hard to insure.
According to NICB, an association that is involved in preventing and prosecuting insurance crime and fraud, the top three most stolen vehicles in 2023 were the Hyundai Elantra, The Hyundai Sonata, and the Kia Optima.

The South Korean auto group has three other vehicles in this top 10. The Kia Soul is in the fifth spot, the Kia Forte is in the eighth place, and the Kia Sportage closes the unfortunate ranking.

The good news is that over 85 percent of the cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs reported stolen were recovered by the Police or through other means by their rightful owners. Over a third of all cars that were targeted by thieves in 2023 were found and recovered in under 24 hours.

Despite the apparent apathy reported on various forums online, the Police are doing their job. Connected rides that can be located via an app make their lives easier, but it's the proactiveness of law enforcement that makes recovering stolen cars a feasible endeavor.

"Hacked" Hyundai
Photo: Fox 2 Detroit on YouTUbe
What the NICB isn't telling us is whether the units that were reconnected with their rightful owners were in good condition or still posed a financial challenge. Typically, the "Kia Boyz" remove most of the steering column plastic to gain better access to the ignition and they don't do that gently.

Besides Hyundais and Kias, other vehicles popular with thieves in 2023 were the Chevy Silverado 1500, the Honda Accord, the Honda Civic, and the Ford F-150.

Things have changed

Despite having multiple rides in this ranking, Hyundai celebrates its nominations for the 2024 Best Cars for Teens Awards. US News & World Report says that the model year 2024 Elantra, Elantra Hybrid, Tucson, and Tucson Hybrid are the best $20K to $35K rides for young drivers who want or need a brand-new vehicle. Due note that these vehicles come with an engine immobilizer as standard and also have more security features that make them invulnerable to basic theft methods such as the USB trick.

According to Hyundai, to be selected for that US News & World Report list, a vehicle must have "the best combination of predicted reliability ratings, crash test scores, available advanced driver assistance features, and top critics' recommendations."

2024 Hyundai Tucson
Photo: Hyundai
At the same time, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is the best used midsize SUV, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is the best used midsize car, and the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is the best small car for teenagers.

The publication hands these awards to model year 2019 – 2021 vehicles that "deliver the best combination of dependability and safety ratings, low ownership costs, positive reviews from critics when the vehicles were new, and available tech that can prevent or lessen the severity of crashes."

It seems that theft vulnerability and not including basic deterrents such as an engine immobilizer (that prevents the powerplant from starting unless you have the right key) haven't been considered important criteria. Many (and maybe even most) Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured before November 1, 2021, and sold in the US didn't come with that basic anti-theft system.

The trend can (and must) end

Someone figured out that multiple Hyundai and Kia models can be turned on with a USB (or even a pair of plyers) and published their findings on TikTok. That led to the "Kia Boyz" craze and caused insurance providers to hike premiums through the roof and even drop coverage for some of these models altogether.

The Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"
Photo: WTHR on YouTube/TikTok
The South Korean auto group implemented a software update to stop people from stealing the affected vehicles, but it didn't convince teenagers to give up on following social media trends and going for joy rides at the expense of honest, hard-working car owners.

Finally, the NICB says that nationwide vehicle theft increased by one percent in 2023 and advises owners to park in well-lit areas, hide valuables out of sight, close all the windows when leaving the vehicle in a parking spot, and notify law enforcement and the insurer as soon as they notice their vehicles missing because that increases the chance of recovery. That's something anyone should do because, in most cases, insurance providers will require a police report to honor a claim.

It's also great to know all the important details about your car when calling the Police. Keep in mind the make, model, color, license plate, and, if possible, the vehicle identification number (VIN). The more officers know, the easier their job will be.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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