Generally speaking, someone only needs access to a screwdriver and USB charger to steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the U.S. that lack the appropriate safety feature. The automakers responded to the problem by offering steering wheel locks to the owners of impacted cars, also announcing a software update in February 2023 designed to improve security. These measures haven’t been enough to keep Hyundai and Kia thefts from skyrocketing in many cities, however, including New York City.
In a lawsuit, city officials claimed that more than 19% of vehicle thefts in the city so far this year have involved vulnerable Hyundais and Kias. To put that in perspective, these vehicles comprise less than 3% of the overall vehicles in NYC. On a year-over-year basis, the number of thefts has reportedly skyrocketed by several hundred percent, and city officials claim the New York Police Department has been unduly burdened as a consequence. Though it’s unclear how much the city may reap in damages if the lawsuit is successful, its initiative joins those of several other major cities that have also hit the automakers with similar suits, including Cleveland, Seattle, Baltimore, and San Diego.