City of St. Louis Files Federal Lawsuit Against Kia, Hyundai for Automaker’s Failure to Install Industry-Standard Safety Technology

Since May of 2022, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) has received more than 4,500 reports of thefts of Kia or Hyundai vehicles.

March 27, 2023 | 2 min reading time

Today, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, joined by city public safety and legal leaders, announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against multinational corporations Kia and Hyundai for their failure to install industry-standard anti-theft technology in millions of their vehicles.

“Big corporations like Kia and Hyundai must be held accountable for endangering our residents and putting profit over people,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “St. Louisans should not be forced to bear the cost of their negligence.”

Since May of 2022, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) has received more than 4,500 reports of thefts of Kia or Hyundai vehicles. 61 percent of all vehicles stolen in St. Louis have been Kias and Hyundais, Kias and Hyundais make up 88 percent of all reported attempted vehicle thefts. This spike has contributed to the 128 percent increase in the number of reported stolen vehicles in the city between May 2022 and February 2023.

Mayor Jones was one of the first mayors in the country to raise the alarm about the public safety threat presented by millions of Kia and Hyundai products which lack an engine immobilizer and can be easily stolen with common household items. The Highway Loss Data Institute notes that Kia and Hyundai have lagged behind other manufacturers in installing standard immobilizers, with only 26 percent of 2015 Hyundais and Kias series possessing immobilizers as standard equipment, compared with 96 percent of other manufacturers. Among 2015-2019 car models, theft claims were nearly double that of those for other manufacturers.

“The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has been working hard to arrest car thieves and hold them accountable for their actions,“ said Chief Robert J. Tracy. “But the huge spike in Kias and Hyundai thefts make the job of police departments like ours much more difficult, siphoning resources that could be devoted to other law enforcement priorities. This lawsuit is an important step to make our streets safer for residents and visitors alike.”

Often a precursor to further crime, stolen cars are often used while carrying out other violent acts. St. Louis joins Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego, Columbus, and Seattle in filing a federal lawsuit against the automakers as cities across the country grapple with the public safety crisis these products have created. Last week, attorneys general from 22 states across the country united to urge Kia and Hyundai to take more action to protect consumers and the public.

In August, the City of St. Louis requested automakers address the public safety hazard their failure has created. Today’s lawsuit, filed by the Affirmative Litigation Unit of the City Counselor’s Office in partnership with law firm Dowd Bennett, is an example of working together to address root causes and hold bad actors accountable. The lawsuit is attached.

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