Law enforcement agencies partner to warn Coloradoans of targeted vehicle thefts

Heather Willard

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / March 9, 2023

(Douglas County, Colo.) Kias and Hyundais, among other brands, have been a known target of auto thieves for a few years, and several state agencies are partnering to share additional information about targeted threats and how motorists can protect their vehicles.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the effort is in response to a TikTok challenge that spread nationwide and resulted in at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities.

A recent analysis by the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority and its partners the Colorado Division of Insurance and the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles, revealed cars with touchless key fobs are targeted less than cars with traditional keyed ignitions.

Newer model keyed ignition Hyundai and Kia vehicle thefts have increased 82% from 2021 to 2022, according to the state’s analysis, rising from about 5,655 branded cars stolen in 2021 to10,319 stolen in 2022. Additionally, Kia and Hyundai vehicles accounted for 25% of all stolen vehicles in Colorado in 2022. The brands accounted for 30% of stolen passenger vehicles.

Despite these vehicles meeting the U.S. Market Security Standard for new automobiles, the patrol and its partners report they’re more prone to theft. This has resulted in some major auto insurance carriers, such as Progressive Insurance, no longer writing new policies on these vehicles. Coloradans who own these vehicles have options available to reduce theft risk.

Hyundai recently announced free anti-theft software for the 2017-20 Elantra, 2015-19 Sonata and 2020-21 Venue models. Hyundai service centers providing the upgrade will include a marking decal. Other models will be eligible in June.

Kia will install free theft deterrent software for vehicles that lack an immobilizer and is rolling the software out in phases through the next few months. The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.

Concurrently, Kia and Hyundai have been working with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November 2022 to 77 law enforcement agencies in 12 states. NHTSA encourages interested vehicle owners to contact local law enforcement to see if a wheel lock is available.

More information is available by contacting Hyundai toll-free at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542.

Vehicle theft ripple effect

The Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) is recommending not only the manufacturer update but also asks owners of these targeted vehicles to consider additional anti-theft equipment, such as steering wheel locks, tire boots and other physically limiting devices.

Vehicle theft is not only extremely costly to the owner, but to all of Colorado; stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes and this all leads to increasing insurance premiums.

Douglas County Sheriff Darren Weekly has been actively advocating for a measure to change how prosecutors can assess charges for vehicle thefts.

Currently, charges are assessed based on how much the car costs, ranging from misdemeanors to high-level felonies; if the bill passes, all vehicle thefts would be at least a class 6 felony (the lowest level).

Weekly cited 2022 CATPA data that shows 627 vehicles stolen across all of Douglas County in 2022. The report said 41,359 vehicles were stolen statewide in 2022 — of these, 30,506 were recorded as stolen in the Denver Metro Area for a regional economic impact of over $279 million.

“Colorado must stop coddling hardcore criminals and repeat offenders,” Weekly testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This bipartisan bill is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Other recommendations for heightened vehicle security equipment include installing aftermarket security systems providing car alarms and GPS tracking. The theft prevention group CATPA recommends owners use a qualified repair facility to install the vehicle immobilizer system.

Consumers with questions about their insurance can contact the Colorado Division of Insurance Consumer Services Team at 303-894-7490 or, / (click on “File a Complaint”).

Comments / 1

Published by

Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

More from Heather Willard

Comments / 0