The City of Seattle is suing Kia and Hyundai, arguing that the company failed to take adequate anti-theft measures to prevent its cars from being stolen.
“Kia and Hyundai have chosen to cut corners and cut costs at the expense of their customers and the public,” Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison said in a statement. “As a result, our police force has had to deal with a huge increase in vehicle thefts and related issues with already stretched resources. Now Seattle’s taxpayers must shoulder the burden of escalating theft. Kia and Hyundai must take responsibility for the danger they have created for public safety.”
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According to prosecutors, between 2021 and 2022, Seattle saw a 363% increase in Kias thefts and a 503% increase in Hyundai thefts. KUOW previously reported that an average of 80 cars were stolen daily across King and Pierce in November 2022.
Kia and Hyundai models are prone to a specific type of car theft. With a simple USB cable, one person can access the ignition and turn on the cars. Instructions on how to do this have spread far and wide across the internet, leading to a nationwide rise in thefts of such cars. The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force has determined that 2011 and later Kias and 2015 and later Hyundais are particularly at risk. Kia and Hyundai have said post-2022 models have included a fix to this problem.
This isn’t the first lawsuit that’s been filed for this issue on Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Prosecutors note that in some cases the cars were stolen and used for other crimes. A recent incident is cited as an example. A group of teenagers reportedly used two stolen cars to rob a Ballard man and then drove to Federal Way. The bureau notes that such Kia and Hyundai auto thefts have hit Seattle’s Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, the Central District and Northgate particularly hard.
“Now that people know how easy it is to steal Hyundais and Kias, the Seattle Police Department has seen a tremendous increase in theft of these models,” Chief Adrian Z. Diaz said in a statement. “From 48 reported thefts from Hyundais and Kias in August to 197 in December. 64 percent of these vehicles were later recovered within city limits, showing that they are likely to be stolen for only a short time, often to commit other crimes. To protect the hard-earned property of Seattle residents, automakers must take this issue seriously and do everything they can to prevent these thefts.”
The city of Seattle is demanding damages from auto companies and forcing them to equip their vehicles with anti-theft technology.