CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — The City of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against car manufacturers Hyundai and Kia for failing to install anti-theft technology in their automobiles which has resulted in a “steep rise in vehicle thefts, reckless driving, property damage, and a wide array of related violent crimes.”
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, says the two automakers failed to install the technology in models sold in the U.S. between 2011 and 2022.
“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,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said. “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.”
Videos circulating on social media showed thieves how to circumvent the defects, causing thefts of Hyundai and Kia cars to increase from 500 in the first half of 2022 to more than 8,350 in the second half of the year, according to WLS.
In 2023, the City says Kia and Hyundai thefts account for more than half of all vehicle thefts.
“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,” Johnson’s office said.
The companies reached a $200 million settlement in May, providing cash compensation to customers who suffered theft-related losses or damage not covered by insurance — as well as reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other losses.
A software upgrade will also be provided to eligible owners. For customers with vehicles that cannot accommodate the software upgrade, the agreement will provide a reimbursement of up to $300 for anti-theft devices.
Kia and Hyundai have also given impacted customers tens of thousands of free steering wheel locks through local law enforcement and direct shipments, the companies said.