NEW YORK – New York City intends to join the ongoing national lawsuit against automakers Kia and Hyundai over a nearly four-digit increase in thefts of these vehicles which it says are related to a missing anti-theft measure on some models, Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday.
Thieves broke the ignition covers of Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2011 and 2021 and can use any USB-shaped external device to bypass the ignition sequence and drive away, Adams said.
Millions of vehicles – 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias, according to the latest federal update – are affected. It’s a known issue, which is why both manufacturers have rolled out free security updates, but everyone knows it too.
People publicized it on social media, leading to a TikTok challenge that emerged in mid-2022. The five boroughs saw an 890% increase in Kia thefts at the end of last year and a 766% increase in Hyundai theft over previous months, according to Adams. The trend has swept the nation. He also became deadly.
As of last Valentine’s Day, he had been charged with at least 14 crashes and eight theft-related deaths, according to the National Highway Safety Administration. The same challenge was met with an October car crash in New York that killed four teenagers.
Kia did not immediately respond to an email request for comment on the city’s planned legal action on Friday. In a statement, Hyundai said the company is “committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of its products.”
The statement went on to address the problem of car theft, stating that engine immobilizers have been standard on all vehicles since November 2021, and a free software update has been made available to prevent this type of theft, with the update update available. three million additional customers affected in the coming weeks.
Hyundai will also refund any customer who has previously purchased a steering wheel lock, according to the statement, and “continues to provide free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies across the country for distribution to local residents who own or rent the locks from flying”. models concerned”.
Adams also said that some models that use mechanical keys instead of a remote lack the “immobilizer” anti-theft systems found in other vehicles, making them particularly vulnerable to theft.
“We will not sit idly by while automakers turn a blind eye to safety and allow criminals to easily take advantage of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement Friday. “New Yorkers rely on their Kia and Hyundai cars to earn a living, get to and from work, transport their children and elderly parents, and go about their daily lives.”
“We would expect these cars to have standard anti-theft measures, measures that some Kia and Hyundai cars lack,” the Democrat added. “We will hold Kia and Hyundai accountable for the public nuisance they have created and protect New Yorkers’ cars.”
During a press conference with the mayor late last month, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the department first became aware of the alarming increase in thefts in New York City in September. Prior to that, he says the city stole 10 to 12 such cars a month. She says the average rose to around 100 in December.
Most thefts have been in the Bronx, but northern Manhattan is also seeing an increase, Sewell added. It’s unclear how many wrecked vehicles are registered in New York, but the police commissioner said that number by itself doesn’t matter — she worries about every one of them in New York.
“We believe the teenagers are stealing them based on the drive-by video, but we can’t ignore the fact that there’s a possibility they could be used to commit a crime,” Sewell said, noting that most cars were believed to have been stolen as part of the trend have been found abandoned. “Obviously stealing them in itself is the crime, but there is a more dangerous crime that can happen in the future that we want to prevent.”
Here’s what the NYPD suggests you do if you own one of the older models, in addition to getting the upgrade:
- Use a steering wheel lock
- Always switch off the ignition and remove the keys when you leave your vehicle
- Block all windows and doors
- Activate your vehicle’s alarm system
- Park in well-lit, high-traffic areas whenever possible
For its part, TikTok said it “does not condone this behavior, which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform.”
The software, which updates car computers, will facilitate the installation of an anti-theft kit.