Suntrup device fights vehicle theft

Hyundai and Kia are easy targets for thieves.

The crime began last year in Wisconsin, where TikTok and YouTube users posted videos showing how to break into a vehicle, rip off the steering column, and bypass the key with a USB cable. Criminals from other states soon joined in, and robberies sprang up across the country.

Affected vehicles (mainly 2011 to 2021 model years) do not include the electronic immobilizer that comes standard on most new vehicles and cannot start the engine without a key fob. The issue has spawned dozens of class-action lawsuits, with some owners using measures such as anti-theft clubs.

Lacking an ideal solution from automakers, Elliot Silk, service director at Suntrup Automotive Group in St. Louis, has one of five dealerships, one for Kia and one for Hyundai, and takes matters into his own hands. decided to settle.

Silk, who said 100 Kia and Hyundai cars were waiting in a parking lot recently awaiting break-in repairs, said he worked with technicians at the store to spend about 3 hours to develop a commercial Bluetooth immobilizer. spent months. He said the device will stop the engine from starting unless the owner presses a button on the remote, even if the key is in the ignition.

According to him, the unique device gives customers peace of mind and provides another revenue stream for the service sector. He charged $200 to have the device installed at his dealership and allowed other customers to purchase it online for him $99 plus shipping.

“It would stop the average thief from stealing cars,” he said. car news“Even if you steal the device, you’d have to be a technician to rewire everything.”

Representatives for Hyundai and Kia said they had not investigated or analyzed Silk’s device, but said they were “continuing to consider and evaluate options.”

Silk said he and his team specially wired an existing product.

No two Bluetooth devices are the same. In other words, you cannot start multiple cars with one control.

He said the technology works in many non-European branded vehicles.

The list of Hyundai and Kia models at risk of theft due to lack of immobilizers is long.

Hyundai said specific trim levels for 2016-21 models Accent, Elantra, Elantra GT, Sonata, Veloster, Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL and Palisade will be included. Kia says all his Kia vehicles “with steel keys, manufactured between 2011 and 2021” could be at risk.

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