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May 20, 2024

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INDIANAPOLIS — It is open season on certain Kia and Hyundai makes and models.

That is because thieves learned how to easily steal the cars from social media.

Jacob Eberle, the service manager at Andy Mohr Kia, said they have seen failed attempts at stealing the cars come in the shop.

"Windows smashed out and the steering column busted off," Eberle said.

Thieves are targeting primarily base models made between 2011 and 2022, because the cars are missing an immobilizer.

Eberle said immobilizer systems almost work like an antenna. The key signals to the car that it is nearby, so go ahead and start the engine.

Without the security feature, thieves can use other tools to start the car.

That is why a software update is now available to correct many of the affected models.

"The software is detecting if a key is actually installed in the lock cylinder. So, if the if the vehicle does not detect a key has been inserted into the lock cylinder, it will not start," Eberle said.

RELATED: IMPD to hand out steering locks as Kia and Hyundai thefts soar

The update is free, and it takes less than an hour. The dealer will also put a sticker on your window to let people know the car is updated.

Hyundai and Kia told 13News that cars not eligible for a software update will be provided with or reimbursed for anti-theft devices. Examples of that include steering wheel lock and an alarm kit.

"It's very important that it does get taken care of. The last thing we want is to anybody have their vehicle stolen," Eberle said.

While the theft of certain Hyundai and Kia models is a nationwide problem, Indianapolis police say it is an issue here, too.

So far in 2023, 436 Kias have been reported stolen in Indianapolis. In 2022, there were 94. Year over year, that's a 363.8% increase.

RELATED: Kia theft up 364%, Hyundai 178% in Indy

As for Hyundais, 247 have been reported stolen in Indianapolis so far in 2023, up from 89 in 2022. Year over year, that is a 177.5% increase.

To find out if your car is affected, call the dealer and ask them. A sign is that you use key to start your car, not a push button.

You can also look at Kia and Hyundai websites.

CARFAX editor-in-chief Patrick Olsen said they estimate more than 4.9 million drivers still need a fix.

"It's more than 86,000 in Indiana and more than 67,000 Just in the Indianapolis region," Olsen said.

The Hyundai spokesperson said their completion rate as of Aug. 3, 2023, is 18%. The spokesperson added that the company distributed more than 80,000 steering wheel locks to more than 650 law enforcement agencies.

A Kia spokesperson told 13News well over 575,000 vehicles have been updated. Both companies say the feature is now standard in their vehicles.

RELATED: IMPD to hand out steering locks as Kia and Hyundai thefts soarRELATED: Kia theft up 364%, Hyundai 178% in Indy