Hyundai and Kia are offering a free security software update for millions of vehicles following a spike in car thefts across the country.

Over the summer, videos were posted to social media channels showing how easy it was to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models made between 2015-2019.

These vehicles lack push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices, which prevent a car from being “hot-wired” or started without the proper key in the ignition.

The security flaw caused a nationwide spike in car thefts, including here in Madison.

“We were busy this summer. At one point in time, half of our stolen auto cases involved a Kia or Hyundai,” said Detective Sergeant Scott Reitmeier, with the Burglary Crime Unit. This unit is responsible for investigating all stolen auto cases, a policy that remains in place following its implementation during the 2022 Summer Strategic Plan.

"People are still reaching out to us concerned about their Kia or Hyundai being stolen. We hope this upgrade can help ease some of their worries," Reitmeier said.

The new software update is designed to keep cars from starting without a key in the ignition.  

The update is free, but it is not part of a recall. It is just being rolled out and is not yet available for all models. The automakers say more vehicles will be eligible in June.

Dealerships here in Madison are currently offering the updates.

Hyundai owners will receive a sticker to put on their window following the update, to alert would-be thieves of the new security detail.

For more information, people can call Hyundai toll-free at 800-633-5151 or their local dealerships. Kia owners can call 800-333-4542 toll-free or their local dealership.

Concurrently, the companies have been working with law enforcement agencies to provide steering wheel locks. MPD distributed most of its supply of these locks last summer.