April 7, 2023
City Will Join National Kia/Hyundai Litigation After Both Companies Have Refused to Equip Certain Models of Cars with Standard Anti-Theft Measures
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix today announced that the city intends to join ongoing national against car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai that aims to hold the two companies accountable for refusing to equip certain models of both cars with standard anti-theft measures following an uptick in car thefts. Due to the absence of sufficient anti-theft devices in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, New York City saw an 890 percent increase in Kia thefts at the end of last year and a 766 percent increase in Hyundai thefts in the preceding months.
The vulnerability of these vehicles to theft has been spread through a viral social media trend. Thieves have been breaking ignition covers off Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2011 and 2021 and are able to use any external device shaped like a USB to bypass the ignition sequence and easily drive away. Certain models of the companies’ cars that use mechanical keys, instead of a key-fob, lack theft “immobilizer” systems that are present in other vehicles — making them especially vulnerable to theft.
“We are not going to sit idly by while automakers turn a blind eye to safety and make it easy for criminals to prey on New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “New Yorkers count on their Kia and Hyundai automobiles to earn a living, get to and from work, transport their children and elderly family members, and live their daily lives. We have the right to expect that those cars have standard anti-theft measures — measures which certain Kia and Hyundai cars lack. We’re going to hold Kia and Hyundai accountable for the public nuisance they’ve created and protect New Yorkers’ cars.”
“A public safety crisis is growing in our communities because of the irresponsible business practices of Kia and Hyundai,” said Corporation Counsel Hinds-Radix. “Criminals are becoming more intuitive and are now capable of stealing cars by using USB cables. As attorneys for the city, we too must be just as intuitive to prevent these crimes. The city intends to file a lawsuit against these automakers, to hold them accountable for the public nuisance they have created.”
“These automakers left people open to having their cars stolen, and they need to be held accountable,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “These thefts put an extreme burden on the victims who may rely on their cars to get to and from work, and who have to shoulder the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicles, but they also impact our city as a whole. The criminals committing these thefts often use the cars for other crimes, like reckless driving or robberies. This is a major concern for us, and we are taking action to put an end to it.”
“We always say that public safety requires everyone to do their part — that’s how we reduce crime and disorder in New York City,” said New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “All of our partners — both in the public and private sectors — must work together to ensure our communities are secure.”
Today’s announcement comes after, last week, Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Sewell warned New Yorkers about a significant uptick in auto thefts involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Thefts of both vehicles increased dramatically between September and December of 2022. Hyundai thefts increased from 12 to 104, while Kia thefts escalated from 10 to 99 in that same timeframe.
The City of New York plans to join the multidistrict litigation that is being coordinated and consolidated for pretrial purposes in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit — which was established on December 22, 2022, operates on two separate tracks: one for the consumer class action and one for the governmental entities cases. The original governmental entity lawsuit was filed on January 23, 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The government entity cases primarily assert claims of public nuisance and, sometimes, negligence against the two car manufacturers arising out of their decisions not to equip certain models of their vehicles with industry standard anti-theft immobilization devices.