Kia and Hyundai models accounted for nearly two-thirds of all attempted car thefts in Columbus since January 2022, according to City Attorney Zach Klein.
COLUMBUS, OH – Columbus City Attorney filed a lawsuit against automakers Kia and Hyundai on Wednesday, citing a spike in thefts of car models that lack standard anti-theft technology.
Kia and Hyundai models accounted for nearly two-thirds of all attempted car thefts in Columbus since January 2022, according to City Attorney Zach Klein. Between January 1 and October 18, 2022, there were 8,000 successful burglaries and attempted burglaries in Columbus.
“The cost to taxpayers of Kia and Hyundai’s negligence continues to rise as local law enforcement diverts limited resources to investigating thefts, responding to crimes and assessing property damage,” Klein said. “It’s time to hold these automakers accountable for defrauding consumers and shifting the responsibility to clean things up on all of us.”
Since the viral trend began more than a year ago, the number of Hyundai and Kia thefts in Columbus has increased 400%, with an average of 17 vehicles stolen daily, according to Klein’s office.
Many of the models were stolen by a group of juveniles known as the “Kia Boyz” who CrimeTracker10 watching for a while. Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said in November that Kia and Hyundai thefts are a daily problem for them, and they arrest juveniles in stolen vehicles daily.
10TV’s Lacey Crisp asked Klein in August when his office was reviewing the lawsuit. At the time, Klein said no.
Klein explained the reason by saying, “It’s about watching the tide continue and seeing our police officers being brought in to deal with this problem and, frankly, seeing too many of our kids because they’re mostly minors, who watch TikToks and steal cars in 30 seconds will end up getting seriously injured or killed.”
Since November 2022, Columbus has been in discussions with Kia and Hyundai about the increase in theft and the resulting costs to car owners and cities. Klein said automakers should provide ongoing safety fixes for affected vehicles at no cost to vehicle owners.
Earlier this weekautomakers have announced that some models will soon be eligible for a free safety fix.
“I thank Kia and Hyundai for heeding our call and providing free safety equipment for drivers, but unfortunately a lot of damage has been done. The fact remains that thousands of Columbus residents have already had their cars stolen, and our law enforcement agencies continue to divert significant amounts of time and resources from responding to these crimes. We have no choice but to sue to hold these multinational corporations accountable for these significant and growing costs to taxpayers.”
The city alleges in the lawsuit that thefts by Kia and Hyundai because of “poor safety features” in their vehicles have cost consumers, insurance companies, local governments and law enforcement millions of dollars.
The city also alleges that the automakers willfully and knowingly manufactured, marketed and sold vehicles that lacked industry-standard safety features. This includes engine immobilizers and other anti-theft systems.
According to Klein, the city is asking the court to force the automakers to compensate the city for damages.
In November, Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “It’s time for Kia to step up. It is absolutely unacceptable to put so many young people and families at risk. Kia needs to step up and help solve this problem.”