Mar 22, 2023 - News

Kia and Hyundai vehicles make up more than 40% of Denver car thefts

Police-reported car thefts in Denver
Reproduced from USAFacts; Chart: Axios Visuals

New data shows Denver's surge in car thefts last year outpaced 2021's alarming record — and a recent social media trend may be to blame.

What's happening: Denver and several other major cities — from Seattle to Chicago to Baltimore — have seen significant spikes in stolen vehicles from 2019 to 2022, Axios' Herb Scribner writes, citing the latest figures from USAFacts.

  • Many of these thefts have been Kia or Hyundai vehicles. Experts connect that to videos on TikTok and YouTube showing how to steal both models.
  • The problem has gotten so severe that several auto insurance carriers are now refusing coverage for new owners of some Kia and Hyundai models, the Denver Post reports.

By the numbers: Thieves in Denver nabbed 455 of the two makes in December 2022, accounting for 41% of cars stolen that month, per USAFacts, a non-profit designed to make accurate data accessible and understandable.

Zoom in: Debbie McClung, a 70-year-old resident of Denver's Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, told the Post she's had her 2017 Kia Sportage stolen twice in less than two years.

  • It would have been three times, had her husband not walked out on an attempted hijacking.

What they're saying: "The emotional impact on regular, ol' Americans is tremendous," McClung said.

  • And with thieves having access to garage door openers and personal information like home addresses on insurance papers, it leaves you "not knowing if you're safe in your house."

Of note: Colorado lawmakers are pushing forward a bipartisan bill that would classify nearly all auto thefts as felonies, instead of first- or second-degree offenses, in an attempt to curb the crime, which is soaring statewide.

  • It would also remove a provision that ties penalties of auto theft with the monetary value of the car, as well as make it easier for violators to be charged and prosecuted by no longer requiring prosecutors prove people caught driving a stolen car knew it was stolen.

The big picture: There were 468,821 total thefts reported in 2022 across all the cities reviewed by USAFacts.

  • The data comes from 500 police departments with the most vehicle thefts in the last five years. USAFacts combined the data with numbers from the FBI, as well as statewide data for 10 places.

What's next: Kia and Hyundai both released new "theft deterrent software" for more than 8 million vehicles in response to the trend.

  • TikTok said in a statement to the Washington Post that it "does not condone this behavior which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform."
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