Sep 13, 2022 - News

Car thefts are on the rise in Dallas

Illustration of a parking lot with a car-shaped dotted line.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Thefts of some Kia and Hyundai models are rising nationwide, and alleged design flaws are being blamed for the spike.

Driving the news: The issue has spurred class-action lawsuits in several states, including Texas and Illinois.

The intrigue: It can take under a minute to steal the cars, and a TikTok trend, #KiaBoyz, appears to be fueling the thefts.

  • Owners have had to get old-fashioned steering wheel locks if they want to keep their vehicles safe.

How it works: Thieves bust a window and remove part of the steering column's cover, exposing the ignition. They break the ignition cylinder off and start the vehicle with a flathead screwdriver or USB plug-in, Axios' Annalise Frank reports.

  • The method works on 2011-2021 Kias and 2016-2021 Hyundais that use a steel key to start. The thieves are targeting cars that lack engine immobilizers, which don't allow the car to start without the correct smart key present, per the automakers.
  • Damage can run from $2,000 to $3,000, and getting the car back may take a while, because some parts are on backorder due to increased demand.

By the numbers: Dallas police have counted over 9,000 car thefts this year, roughly 1,300 more than for the same period last year, though they haven't broken down how many of those thefts were Kias or Hyundais.

  • Over 4,800 thefts of car parts have also been reported in Dallas this year, roughly 1,000 more than for the same period last year.

What they're doing: A Kia spokesperson told CNBC last week that the automaker has given law enforcement officials in "affected areas" free wheel lock devices and that newer models come with an immobilizer that should make them more difficult to steal.

  • Hyundai has said it's creating a security kit that will be available starting next month, but owners will have to pay for it.

Meanwhile: Catalytic converter thefts are also rising because of the value of the metals in them, NBC5 reports.

  • More than 2,000 catalytic converter thefts have been reported this year, 400 more than for the same period last year, Dallas police tell Axios.
  • Carrollton police seized hundreds of stolen catalytic converters from storage units last month.
  • Ford F-Series pickups from 1985-2021, Honda Accords from 1989-2020, Honda CR-Vs from 1997-2020 and Toyota Priuses from 2001-2021 are most likely to have their catalytic converter stolen, per Forbes.

Be smart: If your car is at risk, check with your insurance company to see if it covers catalytic converter theft, because it could cost up to $2,500 to replace. .

  • Carrollton police also suggest parking in a secure garage and, when that isn't feasible, to rely on lighting, alarms or catalytic converter cages to slow thieves down or deter them outright.

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