Kias and Hyundais now most stolen cars in Minneapolis, data shows

New data shows beginning in the spring of this year, Kias became the car stolen most often in Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Police Department told FOX 9 that the nationwide trend of Kia and Hyundai thefts has reached the city. Authorities have said the cars are easier to steal because they lack an electronic security device called an engine immobilizer, making them easier to start without a key.

More than 3,000 cars have been reported stolen in Minneapolis this year, including 432 Kias and 368 Hyundais. Officers are warning people to do what they can to protect their vehicles because this year, an average of 13 cars are stolen each day.

Minneapolis police provided FOX 9 with new data showing starting in the second quarter of 2022 (April through July), Kias became the vehicle make that was stolen most often. To start off the third quarter of the year, Kias and Hyundais were stolen more often than any other make.

Prior to this spring, Hondas, Toyotas, Chevys, and Fords were the most common cars stolen in Minneapolis. But as word spread on social media this year about how easy Kias and Hyundais are to steal, they now account for more car thefts.

It's been nearly two months since FOX 9 first brought you the story of Lynda Pierce and her daughter, Theresa Jones. Pierce’s Kia Soul was stolen outside her Minneapolis home in broad daylight.

The car was later recovered in St. Paul in late June, but Pierce’s story has an unfortunate update: Last week, the same Kia was stolen off the same street. Pierce has now paid two $500 deductibles, plus the cost to repair the car after the first incident, a grand total of at least $1,200 between the two incidents. The car has not yet been found.

RAW DATA: Click here to view 2021 and 2022 stats on car thefts in Minneapolis

"Now here we are again," Pierce told FOX 9 in an interview. "I don't feel any less invaded. In fact, I even feel more so."

Pierce lives near 15th and Park Avenue in the Elliott Park neighborhood, but Minneapolis police data shows the Whittier neighborhood actually has had the most stolen Kias and Hyundais over the last year and a half. During that time period, the third precinct has had the most Kia and Hyundai thefts, and the most car thefts overall.

These are the top 10 neighborhoods for Kia and Hyundai thefts since the beginning of 2021: Whittier, Marcy Holmes, Longfellow, Powderhorn Park, Lowry Hill East, Prospect Park – East River Road, Hiawatha, Central, Standish and South Uptown.

Christopher Uggen, a professor of sociology, law and public affairs at the University of Minnesota, studies national crime patterns, so FOX 9 asked him to help us dig deeper into why this keeps happening. He said overall, technology has actually made cars more difficult to steal over the past few decades, so this trend with Kias and Hyundais is atypical.

Law enforcement officials have told us in the past that because the offenders tend to be teens, there are repeat offenses and police’s hands are tied. Police have also said these thefts have become a "status symbol" with teens posting videos stealing cars on social media and doing donuts in front of police that are unable to chase them due to department policies.

RELATED: St. Paul PD: Kia thefts up 1,300%, Hyundai thefts up 584% in 2022

"A small number of people are doing a large share of the crimes," Uggen explained. "When we see the statistics or the big percentage increase over time, for example, we think, ‘Oh my goodness, youth are really going wild and acting out, etc.’ And that's not the case at all. We know that delinquency is way down in recent years overall."

Uggen said there's a hesitancy to incarcerate teens in general and a hesitancy to incarcerate people for non-violent crimes and property crimes. For car thefts in particular, he said it’s difficult to find the right sentencing or placement options.

"One of the bad things that happens when youth are incarcerated is that they lose attachment to school. It makes them less likely to graduate, less likely to go on to higher education," he explained.

The COVID-19 pandemic also exacerbated the problem, Uggen explained, with one segment of children at home distanced-learning and another segment of children left completely unsupervised.

"I think the kind of recklessness or fearlessness or defiance that we're seeing with some youth is partly a product of that they have been much more or less left to their own devices," Uggen said.

But these thefts also mean people like Pierce can’t go out and buy groceries or drive to the doctor’s office 35 miles away.

"Every place I want to go I have to drive," she said. "There's no reason to do this. There's just none. What's a joyride?"

Here’s the full list of tips Minneapolis police sent FOX 9:

No matter what you drive, seriously consider the following steps to protect your vehicle from auto theft.  

  1. Use an anti-theft device like a steering wheel lock.
  2. Lock your doors.
  3. Take your keys or fob with you.  Nearly 1/3 of all auto thefts resulted from keys being left in the vehicle.  This includes any spare keys or fobs.
  4. Close the windows.
  5. Park in well-lit areas.
  6. Install an audible alarm system.
  7. Install a vehicle immobilizer system.
  8. Install a tracking system or use a tracking app with a supported device.
  9. If your vehicle is stolen, contact the police immediately by calling 911. Please be prepared to provide the following information: The year, make, model, and color of the vehicle License plate number Vehicle Identification Number (also called the "VIN") Any characteristics unique to your vehicle
  10. The year, make, model, and color of the vehicle
  11. License plate number
  12. Vehicle Identification Number (also called the "VIN")
  13. Any characteristics unique to your vehicle
  14. You'll also want to let your insurance company know within 24 hours if your vehicle has been stolen.

Taking a few simple precautions may help you reduce the chances of your vehicle being stolen.