ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Hyundai Motor Company and the Kia Corporation are rolling out a software upgrade the companies say will slow a recent increase in car thefts. The announcement came in a response to a local lawmaker’s call for action.

Congressman Joe Morelle made his request Saturday, asking the CEOs of Hyundai and Kia to address the security vulnerabilities that make certain models targets for theft. The key vulnerability relates to engine immobilizers, which were not equipped standard in many models released between 2011 and 2022.

Hyundai Vice President of Global Affairs Robert Hood addressed the local issue in a letter to Rep. Morelle Monday, saying in part, “this increase has been fueled by irresponsible social media video ‘challenges’ which have promoted this criminal activity.”

According to Hood the “theft mode” demonstrated in social media videos will be disabled by a software upgrade which has already begun rolling out to about 1,100,000 2011-2022 Hyundai owners.

“This population was selected to go first as it covers the highest selling vehicles and those most targeted by thieves according to our discussions with local law enforcement around the country,” Hood said.

Another 2,600,000 vehicles will receive the free update, in phases, by June. Vehicles with the upgrade can be taken to a dealership to get a sticker alerting would-be thieves that the car has the new “enhanced anti-theft technology.”

Hood says roughly 15 percent of the Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 are not eligible for the upgrade. Hyundai is finalizing the details of a plan to reimburse owners of those vehicles for the cost of a steering wheel lock.

Kia and Hyundai owners are asked to contact their respective manufacturers for more information:

  • Kia: (800) 333-4542
  • Hyundai: (800) 633-5151