New York Personal Injury Attorneys
Stolen Hyundais and Kias Prompt Official NYC Response
After faulty immobilizers in Hyundais and Kias resulted in an increase in car thefts across major cities, the City of New York is joining other major metros in filing suits against the car manufacturers. In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, the city claims the automakers failed to install anti-theft devices called immobilizers on most of their cars from 2011 to 2022, essentially making them easier to steal and creating a public nuisance that is impacting public safety.
Below, the New York personal injury lawyers at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. discuss the claim and what to do if you are the owner of a Hyundai or Kia.
Stealing Cars Goes Viral on TikTok
The cars affected are primarily 2011 to 2021 Kias and 2015 to 2021 Hyundais. These particular models lack electronic immobilizers, a safety device that uses a unique chip in the key fob. Without this unique tech, anyone can unscrew the steering column and insert a USB into the ignition to get the car to start.
While the vehicles in question have lacked the proper immobilizers for a decade, it seems that a car-stealing trend on TikTok may be responsible for sparking the recent increase. A “Kia Challenge” video showing how easy it is to hijack certain models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles using a USB cord first appeared on TikTok in 2021. According to reporting in Business Insider, the video regained popularity in 2022, leading to an increase in car thefts in New York City and other major cities, including Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Between September and December of 2022 in New York City alone, Hyundai thefts increased from 12 to 104, while Kia thefts increased from 10 to 99.
The stats for early 2023 are even worse. City officials told Reuters that there has been a “virtual explosion” of thefts. In the first four months of this year, a staggering 977 thefts were reported, compared to just 148 during the same timeframe last year.
What is Being Done About the Thefts?
According to the suits filed by several major cities, Hyundai and Kia continued to release cars without unique chips in their key fobs even after they were made aware of the flaw, and— unlike 96 percent of other cars, only about a quarter of Hyundais and Kias have technology that prevents these types of thefts. The discrepancy has created a public nuisance, and cities are taking notice.
Eighteen Attorneys General have called for a recall of the vehicles, and New York City has joined the ranks of many cities going after the companies after an increase in thefts, including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego, and Seattle.
In response to the increase in thefts, Kia added immobilizers to their 2022 models, and Hyundai added them to cars built since November 2021. Affected drivers are also being offered steering wheel locks through local police departments, but thousands of these vehicles still remain on the streets.
What to Do if You Have a Hyundai or Kia
Some Hyundais and Kias may be eligible for software upgrades that make them less prone to theft. For everyone else, the manufacturers are offering steering wheel locks or reimbursement for the locks. If you have a Hyundai or a Kia and have not been offered a steering wheel lock by the car manufacturers, you can contact your local police department to find out if they are able to provide one.
If you have had your Hyundai or Kia stolen in the NYC area, you may be eligible to pursue legal action to recover compensation for your damages. The product liability attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. are here to assist you with your case.
Our New York attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. stay up-to-date on local laws and regulations to best serve victims. Please contact our team of attorneys by calling (212) 732-9000.