St. Louis prepares to sue Hyundai and Kia for rampant car thefts in the city

Car thefts have skyrocketed in St. Louis in recent months, with city leaders threatening to sue Kia and Hyundai over an alleged defect that makes certain brands of cars easier to steal.

“Our drivers probably get about five of these things a day. Just Kias and Hyundais getting stolen,” tow truck driver Mark Hartmann told KMOV last week of the thefts in the city.

Car thefts in St. Louis have doubled this year, according to KMOV. In July alone, the city averaged 21 Kia and Hyundai theft incidents each day. That number rose to 23 flights per day in August, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previously reported.

In August, St. Louis executives threatened to sue Hyundai and Kia, demanding the automakers fix a flaw that would make it easier to steal vehicles built before 2021. KMOV reported last week that plans to sue the automakers cars due to the surge in car thefts in the city are still ongoing.

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Photo of Kia sign at Seoul headquarters REUTERS/You Sung-Ho KKH/SA (REUTERS/You Sung-Ho KKH/SA/Reuters Photos)

“With this letter, the city is demanding that Kia and Hyundai mitigate the flawed conditions providing thieves – including teenagers as young as 13 – with the instruments by which they destroy property, endanger city drivers and themselves- themselves, and, in some cases, commit violent crimes,” according to the letter written Aug. 19 by Councilwoman Sheena Hamilton.

Hyundai is Kia’s parent company, but the two manufacturers operate independently.

“Another stolen recovery we had,” Hartmann added to KMOV while recovering the remains of a stolen car in the city. “It’s good for business but it’s bad for a lot of things. Customers are without a car for weeks.”

A spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the planned lawsuits.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has pushed back against plans by St. Louis leaders to sue automakers for crimes committed in August.

“St. Louis has a violent crime problem. What is causing crime in the city? The mayor’s war on the police? city ​​think it’s… the cars. Yeah, the automakers are to blame not criminals. You can’t make this stuff up,” he tweeted on Aug. 30.

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St. Louis Skyline with St. Louis Arch in Focus

The St Louis Arch is seen in the skyline of St Louis, Missouri January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Tom Gannam (REUTERS/Tom Gannam/Reuters Photos)

St. Louis was considered the murder capital of the United States, but was overthrown this year by New Orleans. As of September 17, St. Louis had 45 homicides per 100,000 population, compared to 52 homicides per 100,000 population in New Orleans as of September 11.

Thefts of Kias and Hyundais have skyrocketed across the country in recent months as a TikTok challenge using the hashtag “Kia Boys” has gained popularity. The social media trend has challenged people to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models manufactured between 2010 and 2021 that are not equipped with an electric anti-theft security device called an immobilizer. Cars can be stolen with just a USB cable and a screwdriver, according to the social media trend.

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Close-up view of a Hyundai vehicle taken in 2012 in Seoul

Hyundai Motor’s Grandeur (C) and other sedans are displayed at a gallery-style Hyundai dealership in Seoul April 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters Photos)

“Defective Kia and Hyundai vehicles have caused a public safety crisis in the city, endangering the health, safety and peace of all who live, work or visit the city,” Hamilton continued in the letter to the authorities. Car manufacturers. “Your companies have a responsibility to mitigate the public nuisance your negligence has created for the city and its people.”

Automakers have also faced a handful of class action lawsuits filed this year over vehicles without immobilizers.

An Ohio law firm reported last week that more than 3,600 people in the state have applied to join the proposed lawsuit. Another class action lawsuit was filed in California last month against automakers for vehicles lacking immobilizers. A similar class action lawsuit was filed in Illinois in early September, and another was filed in Minnesota later that same month.

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A representative for Hyundai did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on the hike and thefts, proposed St. Louis lawsuits or class action lawsuits.

Hyundai Motor America spokesman Ira Gabriel previously told Fox News Digital in a statement that the company “is concerned about the recent increase in car thefts of certain models of Hyundai vehicles.”

“Although all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media. Criminals are targeting our vehicles without immobilizers. Immobilizers have become standard on all vehicles produced after Nov. 1, 2021,” Gabriel said.

A Kia America representative told Fox News Digital on Sunday that the company is “concerned about the increase in vehicle theft.”

“Although no car can be completely protected against theft, criminals target vehicles equipped with a steel key and a ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system as opposed to those equipped with a key fob. keys and a “push button to start” system.Kia America continues to work closely with local law enforcement in affected areas to provide free steering wheel lock devices to affected owners of Kia vehicles in steel key not originally fitted with an immobilizer,” the statement read.

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“All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the start of the year or as an operational change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed federal motor vehicle safety standards.” The company is also testing software updates to “make these targeted vehicles more secure and will share more information as it becomes available.”

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