BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Police Department says it is exhausting its resources responding to dozens of calls a day about stolen Kias and Hyundais.

The vehicles are targets for the “Kia Challenge,” where people can break in and steal the cars because they do not have an immobilizer in them – a part that became standard in many cars in the 1970s.

A spokesperson for Kia has told Spectrum News 1 in the past that the Kia Challenge is a localized crime problem and they have made software updates and steering wheel locks available. Still, thousands of cars continue to be stolen at rates police officers said are not sustainable.

“They are literally driving these cars to the next Kia or Hyundai and stealing the next one,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

If the suspect is caught and is a juvenile, they are taken to family court. In some instances, they are charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, a charge that may allow them to go home under certain conditions the same day.

This is an issue Rochester Police Captain Frank Umbrino brought up while responding to the scene of a stolen vehicle where a man was shot and later died of his injuries.

“If the judges would start keeping these kids in jail that are stealing these cars that we’re catching, that could probably prevent some of this,” said Umbrino. “It’s just a revolving door. You’ve got the same kids getting caught in stolen cars sometimes twice in a day.”

Spectrum News 1 has been collecting stolen vehicle data across New York state.

In Buffalo, 891 Kias and 587 Hyundais have been stolen between January and June 2023. Before the Kia Challenge, in all of 2021, 62 Kias were stolen and 75 Hyundais.

In Rochester 1,805 cars in total have been stolen this year. Details on the makes were not immediately available.

In Onondoga County, there have been 212 stolen or attempts to steal Kias or Hyundais, which is 37% of reports. There have been juvenile arrests regarding those incidents.

Additionally, the Syracuse Police Department issued the following statement:

"The Syracuse Police Department is putting neighbors on the lookout. We're seeing an increase in car larcenies in the Strathmore neighborhood, specifically targeting Kias and Hyundais.

This is a result of a security flaw where vehicles can be started without a key. A steering wheel lock can be used to help prevent these thefts. Both automakers have also developed theft deterrent software that is available for free to owners.

As always, if you see something, say something. Call 911 or Syracuse Police at (315) 442-5222.”

Police recommend anyone with these types of vehicles park in an enclosed garage or block the car into a driveway with another vehicle. If that is not possible, they recommend using a steering wheel lock. Gramaglia said he is looking into ways to automate a system for non-urgent stolen car reports so an officer does not need to respond in person to each one.