The Dem-run city of Baltimore is suing auto manufacturers Hyundai and Kia in federal court, blaming them for making their vehicles too easy to break into.
As a “vehicular crime wave” sweeps the city, Baltimore officials are accusing Kia and Hyundai of making their cars too easy for criminals to break into because they are not equipped with “industry-standard vehicle immobilization technology.”
The city of Baltimore is the latest to join other major U.S. cities that are also suing the companies for their alleged lack of anti-theft technology.
In Baltimore, car theft has risen by 95% in the past year. According to officials, 40% of vehicles stolen in the city in 2022 were Kias and Hyundais.
Democrat Mayor Brandon Scott blamed the auto manufacturers in a statement, saying, “These cost-cutting measures employed by Hyundai and Kia at the expense of public safety are unacceptable. They have left our residents vulnerable to crime and are significantly burdening our police resources.”
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“We must demand more from these manufacturers in addressing this increase in vehicle thefts, which put victims and residents in harm’s way,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. “This lawsuit represents a first step in holding these manufacturers accountable and establishing necessary safeguards to improve the quality of life for our residents.”
Kia has dismissed the lawsuit as lacking merit and gave a statement to WBALTV saying, “Kia remains deeply concerned that car theft targeting certain models – encouraged by social media content promoting criminal conduct – is an issue.”
“To address these crimes, we continue to roll out a free, enhanced security software upgrade to restrict the unauthorized operation of vehicle ignition systems and we are also providing steering wheel locks for impacted owners at no cost to them.”
Kia added that they have sent 1,450 wheel locks to police departments in the Baltimore area for distribution.
“Lawsuits against Kia by municipalities are without merit. Kia has been and continues to be willing to work cooperatively with law enforcement agencies in the greater Baltimore area to combat car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it,” added the auto manufacturer.
Hyundai has also responded to these allegations, saying that their vehicles are in full compliance with all safety and security regulations. They pointed the blame at thieves who not only break into cars and steal them but also share tips on how to do so on social media.