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US Cities Sue Kia & Hyundai For Spike in Stolen Cars Lacking Anti-Theft Devices

By Jake Beardslee · July 22, 2023

Auto thefts have skyrocketed nationwide, especially for certain Kia and Hyundai models that lack anti-theft devices.  Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brandon Williams-Church, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A new report on crime in America shows a decrease in homicides and gun violence, but a dramatic rise in auto thefts in the first half of 2023.

Homicides fell over 9% and gun assaults dropped more than 5% compared to last year, according to the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice, which analyzes crime data from dozens of cities. Meanwhile, auto thefts skyrocketed, increasing more than 33% from pre-pandemic levels. “That is an astronomically high, alarming number,” said Sgt. Matt Sanders of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

A major factor in the auto-theft surge is a spike in stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2011-2022. “You have the design flaws in the vehicles themselves, coupled with the social media platforms, almost giving people advice on how to steal these vehicles,” Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute told ABC News. Videos online show thieves able to steal the cars in under 15 seconds.

Amanda Rhye was devastated when she learned that her prized Kia had been stolen. “My heart sank. I mean, that car means everything to a family like ours. It’s our only vehicle. It’s my job. It’s our transportation,” Rhye lamented to ABC News. Her car was stolen in Louisville, Kentucky.

In response, over a dozen cities have filed lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai, claiming the automakers failed to install anti-theft technology in their vehicles. Some Kia and Hyundai owners have alse reported being dropped by their insurers due to repeated thefts.

“They must have smashed into curbs, smashed into walls. We got a letter saying that because of the amount of money that they’ve spent on us, they’ve said that they’re just not going to renew our policy,” Michael Lawrence of Wisconsin told ABC News. His Kia has been stolen three times.

While Hyundai and Kia have released anti-theft software and distributed steering wheel locks to their customers, data shows auto thefts continue to rise.

Light Wave commentary

The surge in car thefts because of a lack of anti-theft technology is a crime problem with a fairly simple solution. US cities are right to sue Kia and Hyundai for their poor record in supplying their vehicles with adequate security systems. Cost-cutting is no excuse, since customers bear the true cost in loss of property and transportation. nsurance companies dropping customers after repeated thefts compounds the problems for Kia and Hyundai owners. It points to the ripple effects these car theft spikes are having on society.

At the same time, the spread of social media tips and videos on how to steal these cars also demands attention. Platforms like TikTok have a responsibility to moderate dangerous content that promotes criminal activity. Law enforcement and lawmakers may need to get involved if the spread of viral theft videos cannot be curtailed.

Bottom line: Manufacturers must ensure that security features and safeguards against theft keep pace as their vehicles - and auto thieves - grow more sophisticated.