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Hyundai has a new plan to fight the rash of social media-driven thefts targeting its vehicles.
Videos shared on the internet showing how easy it is to start some models from Hyundai and its sister brand, Kia, using just the tip of a USB cable have led to thousands of thefts across the country, with even underage children caught taking vehicles for joyrides .
Just last Saturday a group of four children, ages 14-17, stole a 2021 Kia Forte from a rental lot in St. Paul, Minnesota, and led police on a highway chase with patrol cars and a helicopter in pursuit.
The car crashed as the driver attempted to avoid a stop stick that had been set up in the road, and the group tried to flee on foot before they were apprehended.
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The issue stems from the lack of an immobilizer system in some of the vehicles prior to the 2022 model year, mainly 2011-2021 Kias and 2015-2021 Hyundais equipped with ignitions requiring mechanical keys.
A Hyundai spokesperson now tells Fox News Autos that the automaker has expanded a program supporting police departments that are distributing theft-preventive steering wheel locks and has also identified an aftermarket product that addresses the issue.
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The Firstech/Compustar security kit “targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles” and disables the starter if the alarm is triggered.
Hyundai will be offering sales and installation of the kit at its dealers starting on Oct. 1 at a yet to be announced price.
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Customers with concerns can also call the automaker’s assistance line at 800-633-5151 for more information.
A Kia spokesman said the company is working on a similar plan and will announce details soon.