Teen ‘Kia Boyz’ thieves target Kia, Hyundai cars in Atlanta
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Kia and Hyundai drivers are on high alert in Atlanta fearing teenagers will steal their vehicles.
Richard Eldredge, a 2019 Kia Soul owner, was shocked when a group of boys stole his “dad car” out of his gated midtown Atlanta apartment parking garage.
“You’re not going to find anything of value. You’re going to find fast food napkins and my car registration, so it was shocking to me to find out my locked vehicle was stolen,” said Eldredge.
Surveillance video shows a group of four boys walking up to Eldredge’s car around 11 p.m. on July 7. Eldredge said a second Kia in the parking garage was broken into and a third Kia parked down the street was also stolen that night.
Eldredge believes the incident is the latest instance of a national trend.
Law enforcement agencies in cities like Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and St. Paul have shared warnings about young people stealing Kia models 2012 and newer and Hyundai models 2015 and newer.
The teenage thieves share videos of driving the stolen cars on social media using the hashtag #kiaboyz.
“These Kia’s are being taken all over the country,” said Eldredge. “These are young boys – I would be shocked if they could shave let alone have a driver’s license at the age they are. It’s very disturbing young people are involved in this.”
St. Paul, Minnesota is one of the areas hit hardest by Kia crimes. Officials report a 1300% increase in Kia thefts.
“The Kia’s and Hyundai’s have, what I call, a design flaw that allows them to be stolen easier,” said Ramsey County Undersheriff Mike Martin. “Within seconds, those cars can be compromised and be started with a USB port or even a pocket knife.”
Atlanta police did not respond when asked about a possible uptick in Kia or Hyundai thefts.
However, Kia America told CBS46, “Kia America is aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim level vehicles in your area.”
Hyundai also acknowledged an overall increase in crime, telling CBS46, “Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts. The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority.”
New 2022 Kia models and new Hyundai models have engine immobilizers. However, Eldredge’s 2019 vehicle doesn’t make the cut. While paying hundreds of dollars in repairs, he’s asking the car company to step up and help retrofit his car with an immobilizer too.
Kia and Hyundai drivers should park in well-lit areas and consider installing audible alarms, immobilizers, steering wheel locks, and tracking systems.
Both Kia and Hyundai said all vehicles for sale in the U.S. meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Kia customers with questions should contact the Consumer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (4Kia).
Hyundai customers with questions should contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.
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