Experts share anti-theft tech amid rash of Kia, Hyundai thefts in Madison

MADISON, Wis. — If you own a certain make of car, you may feel helpless seeing the news in and around Madison lately — Kias and Hyundais are easily stolen, often times crashed. But all hope is not lost, according to experts on auto security.   

Kia models newer than 2011 and Hyundai models newer than 2015 have a target on their backs, according to the Madison Police Department.

RELATED: Madison police seeing increase in car thefts, Kias and Hyundais targeted

“It’s an ongoing trend right now with some of our vehicle manufacturers where you can steal a car without having the actual key,” Captain Mike Hanson told News 3 Now on Tuesday.  

How do they do it?

“Depends on how good the thief is.” Paul Nachreiner said.  

Nachreiner, with AMS in Madison, sells and installs remote starts and other auto security systems. 

He said Korean cars sold in the U.S. have keys without a transponder chip, which he describes as “a form of antitheft that’s done through an antenna that reads a chip embedded in the head of the key it’s not present in the cars that are sold here.” 

Without that transponder, one could fool the car into thinking your key’s in.  

“If they get past the tumblers, they can turn the switch to start the car,” said Nachreiner. “In theory, that’s exactly what they can do.” 

Nachreiner said third-party remotes are one way to boost security. “The after-market security system we install, once triggered can immediately interrupt the ignition circuit so if you smash out the tumblers and turn the switch, nothing’s going to happen.” 

Along with more sensitive alarms and dash cams, smartphone software can allow you to turn your car on or off or lock it from afar. 

“Someone sets off the alarm because it’s cellular-based, and it’s two-way communication, your cell phone can give you the notification that the vehicle’s been tampered with,” Nachreiner said.  

Security needs to be up to date, he said. Thieves are finding new ways to use signal boosters and other tech.  

“When you think you have more advanced security than you ever did, there are things that are happening,” said Nachreiner. 

The Madison Police Department is planning on updating the public on the recent rash of car thefts and how they plan to stop them at a press conference tentatively scheduled for Thursday.