Fox 8 Defenders: Apple Air Tags help locate stolen Hyundai in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Owners of Kias and Hyundais are looking for alternative solutions to a chronic theft problem, popularized by a group of thieves on TikTok.
In 2022, the New Orleans Police Department says 465 Hyundais manufactured between 2015-2021 and 389 Kias made between 2010-2021 were stolen. Police say the models all have mechanical-keyed ignitions and lack an engine immobilizer.
In the first month of 2023, over 800 cars have been stolen on New Orleans streets, and roughly half of them are Kias and Hyundais.
“It involves millions of vehicles,” Ken McClain, with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, P.C., said. “It’s unclear, because of discoveries at the beginning, just how many vehicles we are talking about.”
McClain is leading a class-action lawsuit against both car companies representing over 500 people. He wants to see vehicle owners get some kind of compensation or a recall to fix the immobilizer issue, especially with some people having trouble getting their vehicles insured after the nationwide uptick in thefts. McClain also says the lack of an immobilizer is causing the resale price of Kias and Hyundais to plummet.
Two major auto insurers, State Farm and Progressive, say they will not be writing new policies on certain older Kia and Hyundai vehicles because they are so easy to steal. It’s not clear which markets are impacted by the insurance companies’ decision, but earlier reports indicate Denver and Saint Louis are among them.
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Thieves key on hack that leaves Hyundai, Kia cars vulnerable
So how do you stop the thefts from happening?
Car tracking systems like LoJack, and even the much cheaper Apple Air Tags, can help stop your car from being stolen. Steering wheel locks can also provide a cheap deterrent for thieves.
One New Orleans woman is thanking her Apple AirTag, a small tracking device, for helping police quickly find her stolen Hyundai Elantra.
The victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said her car was stolen on Saturday (Jan. 28) in the 3300 block of St. Charles Avenue. Two hours later, thanks to the help of an Apple AirTag her husband put in her car, New Orleans police were able to locate her Hyundai with suspects still inside.
“We walked out to go to the Fresh Market, and lo and behold, I said to my husband ‘sweetheart, where is our car?’” the victim says.
The couple was able to track the Hyundai’s every movement and point responding officers to a location the vehicle was stopped about two miles away on Magnolia Street.
“We could see the houses... you can go on the app and look where the house was,” said the victim.
When officers arrived and pulled up behind the Hyundai, the perpetrators evaded capture and fled on foot, she says. She’s glad the car was not totaled.
“They hadn’t touched anything except we had a bag of almonds in there, and they took the almonds and dumped them out,” said the victim.
Worried car owners have been snapping up steering wheel lock bars as fast as shipments hit shelves.
Hyundai has sent the NOPD two shipments of steering wheel locks this month to combat the surge in thefts, driven by a viral Tik Tok trend targeting the company’s vehicles. A shipment from Kia is expected next week.
According to Forbes.com, both car companies are looking into software updates that would prevent thefts, but they would be ready until at least the first half of 2023.
Hyundai has offered a Compustar Firstech glass-break sensor security kit that customers have to pay $170 for.
The NOPD says if a vehicle is stolen and recovered in New Orleans, the owner will not be charged towing and storage fees as long as the vehicle is not left at the towing facility beyond 90 days.
If you have a consumer complaint you’d like us to look into, call the Fox 8 Defenders, staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397. Or click here to fill out our online complaint form, which is the easiest way to reach us.
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