Last month, the Los Angeles Police Department alerted the public to the viral TikTok challenge encouraging the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
One in five vehicle thefts this year is a Kia or Hyundai, police said, and officials believe that’s partly due to the lack of an “immobilizer,” an anti-theft device that doesn’t come with key-start Kias and Hyundais. produced between 2011 and 2021.
With no immobilizer, the car can be stolen with just a USB cable and a screwdriver.
On Wednesday, Orange County attorney Jonathan Michaels filed a class-action lawsuit against Kia America and Hyundai Motor America. The two companies operate independently, however Kia’s parent company is Hyundai.
The lawsuit claims the decision by both companies to rely on old technology led to an increase in theft and the ensuing loss of value in the resale market.
“It’s like one of those old keys from the 1960s, just an actual key. It’s the only manufacturer we know of that makes a car that doesn’t have an engine immobilizer,” Michaels said.
Michaels estimated that there are 10 million vehicles that lack immobilizer, and each vehicle will cost about $ 500 to repair.
“It’s about a $5 billion recall,” he said.
Kia and Hyundai declined to comment on the pending litigation, though they said they were working with police on the matter.
The trend of stealing Kia and Hyundai cars has been felt across the country.
Earlier this year, Alissa Smart of Indiana told Nexstar’s WXIN that she believe that the TikTok challenge is to blame for trying to steal his Kia.
In Norfolk, Virginia, police saw a 35% increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts in the first half of July alone, wave reported. And the police in other municipalities, like Beloit, Wisconsin, and Kentwood, Michigan, which is urging Kia and Hyundai owners to take extra precautions.
Thieves have taken advantage of immobilizer defects, and some are posting their illegal antics online, Sgt. Eric Brunner from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan told Nexstar wood. Rick Ricart, of Ricart Automotive in Ohio, said WCMH that no less than 30 Kia and Hyundai cars have been towed to his shop for service for a week in June, all with damage to the steering column.
Smart, the victim of a break-in in Indiana, also told WXIN that he doesn’t think TikTok should allow the kind of content that could lead to further break-ins.
“This trend really makes me feel disgusted,” he said. “It’s beyond me that people think it’s okay to post criminal acts, let alone participate in them after seeing them online.”
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