A report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau puts Illinois at the top of a dubious list. Illinois had the largest increase in vehicle thefts in any state in 2022, with a 35 percent increase from 2021. In overall car thefts, Illinois is fifth on the list for 2022 with 38,649 thefts, behind only California (202,685), Texas (105,015), Washington (46,939) and Florida (45,973). The theft rate in Chicago is even higher, with automobile thefts increasing 73 percent in the last 12 months compared to the average of the last three years from January 2017 to May 2023.
The 2015 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee tops the list of most stolen cars in Illinois, followed in order by the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu, 2020 Nissan Altima, 2008 Chevrolet Impala, 2007 Toyota Camry, 2005 Ford pick-up (full-size), 2019 Dodge Charger, 2000 Honda Civic, 2019/2020 Honda Accord and 2017 Ford Fusion.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 18 states, called for a federal recall in April of Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 that have easily-bypassed ignition switches and lack engine immobilizers that make the vehicles vulnerable to theft. The vehicle immobilizers prevent vehicles from operating without a key or key fob. In 2022 alone, there were over 7,000 Hyundai and Kia thefts in Chicago. Thefts ranged nationwide, as social media sites had posts showing how easy it was to steal the vehicles. Kia and Hyundai have attempted to remedy the situation, offering steering wheel locks and other anti-theft devices to owners. In addition, Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for millions of their vehicles and will provide it free to vehicle owners.
Most recently in May, Hyundai and Kia announced an agreement to a $200 million settlement for ongoing litigation issues, with $145 million being set aside for customers’ out-of-pocket losses as they’ve dealt with this issue. The settlement covers approximately nine million vehicles.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, other reasons for the rise in vehicle thefts included the global pandemic, economic downturn, reduction in juvenile outreach programs, law enforcement realignment and owner complacency. Five reasons why vehicles are stolen include: keys left in vehicles, valuables being left in plain sight, the emergence of newer vehicles with keyless entry and push-to-start ignitions, parking in areas without surveillance and lack of vehicle security mechanisms.