Democrat Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has decided to take legal action against automakers Kia and Hyundai, blaming them for the significant increase in car thefts in the city.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Johnson alleges that the companies have a “critical defect” in their vehicles that makes them more susceptible to theft.
For those who have been closely following the rise in crimes in Chicago, the mayor’s lawsuit is an attempt to shift the spotlight away from his own administration’s shortcomings. Crime rates in the city, including car thefts, have been on the rise for several years now because of Democrats’ soft on crime, but the decision to blame car manufacturers rather than address the underlying issues feels nothing short of absurd.
“The impact of car theft on Chicago residents can be deeply destabilizing, particularly for low- to middle-income workers who have fewer options for getting to work and taking care of their families,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson.
“The failure of Kia and Hyundai to install basic auto-theft prevention technology in these models is sheer negligence, and as a result, a citywide and nationwide crime spree around automobile theft has been unfolding right before our eyes,” he added.
From the press release:
Mayor Brandon Johnson announced today that the City has filed a civil lawsuit against Kia America, Inc., Kia Corporation, Hyundai Motor America, and Hyundai Motor Company for their failure to include industry-standard engine immobilizers in multiple models of their vehicles, resulting in a steep rise in vehicle thefts, reckless driving, property damage, and a wide array of related violent crimes in Chicago.
The complaint, which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleges that Kia and Hyundai failed to equip their U.S. cars, sold between 2011 and 2022, with vital anti-theft technology, which almost all other car manufacturers made a standard feature over a decade ago and which Kia and Hyundai include in their vehicles sold outside of the country. The Complaint alleges that Kia and Hyundai deceptively assured consumers that these vehicles possessed “advanced” safety features, despite knowing about this critical defect and its consequences.
Since videos posted on social media exposed this defect, thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles in Chicago surged from about 500 in the first half of 2022 to more than 8,350 during the second half of the year. Thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles continue to comprise more than half of all vehicles stolen in Chicago in 2023.
Because these vehicles are entry-level models, Kia’s and Hyundai’s failure to include engine immobilizers disproportionately impacts low-income Chicago residents. Moreover, offenders have used stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles to commit other crimes, including reckless driving, armed robbery, and murder.
Kia and Hyundai have failed to remedy their misconduct, refusing to provide sufficient steering wheel locks requested by the City and even taking advantage of the crisis by charging consumers for security kits.
The City’s Complaint alleges that Defendants’ actions violated the City’s consumer protection laws, were negligent, and created a public nuisance. The City aims to reclaim expenses incurred by the City in responding to the wave of thefts, provide restitution to Chicago owners of affected vehicles, and compel the companies to fix security flaws in affected vehicles.
“This is about saving lives and preventing the violent crimes that these stolen vehicles are used in,” said Interim Superintendent Fred Waller. “As law enforcement, we are doing everything we can to prevent these thefts, but these vehicle companies must also be held accountable.”
Chicago is the latest Democrat city to sue Kia and Hyundai due to manufacturing cars that are easily stolen.
In March, the city of Milwaukee sued Kia and Hyundai for creating “nuisance levels of automobile theft” in the city.
In May, the City of Baltimore sued both Hyundai and Kia in federal court for producing cars that lack anti-theft technology.
In the lawsuit, the City of Baltimore is blaming Kia and Hyundai vehicles for making up 40% of car thefts in the city.
Baltimore City is suing Hyundai and Kia in federal court for actions the city says are fueling a “vehicular crime wave.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims the business decision by the automakers to not equip vehicles with anti-theft technology is behind the city’s massive spike in car thefts.
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In June, New York City filed a lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai, claiming that the two automakers have failed to implement adequate anti-theft measures, resulting in a significant rise in car theft incidents.
The lawsuit cited concerns over public safety, emphasizing the potential risk of death and injury posed by easily stolen cars.
“This case is a clear example of what happens to public safety when car manufacturers choose not to include standard anti-theft technology in their cars,” according to the 39-page suit filed.
“Hyundai’s and Kia’s business decisions to reduce costs, and thereby boost profits, by foregoing common anti-theft technology have resulted in an epidemic of thefts.”
Last year, Saint Louis City filed a class action lawsuit against the two car manufacturers for a surge of auto thefts.
In May, Kia and Hyundai settled the lawsuit by paying more than $200 million, STL Today reported.
Kia and Hyundai will pay more than $200 million for about 9 million vehicles that lack a standard anti-theft security device, allowing thieves to break into and drive off in many models of the cars in less than 90 seconds. The size of the car manufacturers’ total payout will depend on how many eligible drivers apply for repayment.
Owners can receive up to $6,125 for out-pocket-damages, including the total loss of their car. They’re also eligible for up to $3,375 for personal property, insurance-related expenses and other expenses such as alternative transportation.
The increase in carjackings of Kia and Hyundai vehicles spiked after a viral TikTok challenge showed people how to use a USB cable to steal a newer model of a KIA or Hyundai.
🎥MUST SEE: If you drive a KIA or HYUNDAI, car thieves have figured out a way to START & STEAL your car. All with just a USB cable.
What started as a Tik Tok challenge has now caused Hyundai to send out an update to fix the security issue. Watch 👇 pic.twitter.com/wvALZZxGgj
— Teddy Tv (@edrTeddy) May 12, 2023