The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), together with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the International Association of Special Investigation Units, has sent a joint letter to YouTube requesting the social media platform to take down all videos that provide “how to” tutorials on carjacking Kia and Hyundai automobiles.
The organizations moved in response to the sudden spike in auto theft cases involving automobiles manufactured by Kia and Hyundai. It was found that certain cars – such as the Kia Rio and the Hyundai Accent – lack computer chips for theft “immobilizer” systems, allowing thieves to easily start the car and drive them away. Some thieves have even made instructional videos on how to perform the theft procedure using just a screwdriver and a USB cable, which have been shared on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.
"Everyday consumers are being victimized by criminals using social media platforms to learn their newest illegal tricks and techniques," said NICB CEO David Glawe. "Some platforms are not doing enough to protect innocent victims from unnecessary harm."
In their letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the industry organizations acknowledge that other social media platforms like TikTok need to do more to prevent these types of videos from being shared. But the letter also stressed that YouTube has failed to remove many of these videos.
Citing data from various police departments across the US, NICB said that there have been “drastic increases” in Kia and Hyundai thefts in America since the videos were made. These thefts include:
- Chicago: 601 Kia and Hyundai vehicles were stolen in August 2022, compared to just 58 in August 2021, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Department.
- Los Angeles: An 85% increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts were committed in 2022 compared to 2021, according to Los Angeles police officials.
- St. Louis: 48% of the 3,970 motor vehicles reported stolen in 2022 (through August) were Kia and Hyundai models, compared with only 7% of the total vehicles stolen in 2021, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
- Milwaukee (where the original video was filmed): Two-thirds of the 5,144 vehicles stolen in 2021 (through July) were Kia and Hyundai models.
"Insurance fraud is the crime we all pay for. Posting of videos such as these harms American consumers by increasing auto thefts and driving up higher premiums. It is time for practices such as these to stop. We can all play a part in fighting insurance crime," said Coalition Against Insurance Fraud executive director Matthew Smith.
"Enabling criminals to share the tools and techniques of their trade through posting videos online adversely impacts all consumers," added International Association of Special Investigation Units president Celeste Dodson.
On the subject of auto theft, Massachusetts signed a bill earlier this month that establishes penalties for the unauthorized sale of catalytic converters, in an attempt to curb the rampant theft of expensive auto parts.