New York City Goes After Hyundai, Kia Over Security Flaws That Make Thefts Easy

New York City Goes After Hyundai, Kia Over Security Flaws That Make Thefts Easy

New York City has filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, joining a host of other cities beset by a social media fueled wave of car thefts due to a flaw that made some car models highly susceptible to theft.

Viral how-to videos on TikTok and other sites show how to start the cars using only USB cables and a screwdriver. The reason is that some models sold by Hyundai and Kia in the U.S. came without engine immobilizers, a standard feature on most cars since the 1990s that prevent the engine from starting unless the key is present.

The lawsuit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York late Tuesday, alleges that Hyundai Motor America and Kia America Inc. failed to keep up with other automakers by not adopting immobilizer technology that ensured car ignitions could not be started without their keys.

“Hyundai’s and Kia’s business decisions to reduce costs, and thereby boost profits, by foregoing common anti-theft technology have resulted in an epidemic of thefts,” the lawsuit states.

The city claims the vehicle thefts are straining the resources of its police department, as well as negatively impacting public safety and emergency services.

The New York City police department reports that about 287 Kias were stolen last year, compared with approximately 119 in 2021. Approximately 415 Hyundais were reported stolen in 2022, compared with 232 a year earlier. And the problem has continued, with an estimated 977 Hyundai and Kia vehicles reported stolen in the first four months of this year. There were only 148 such thefts in the same months last year.

New York, the nation’s biggest city by population, joins a growing list of cities going after the carmakers following a raft of thefts, including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego and Seattle.

New York City, which is seeking a trial by jury, is requesting an order providing for abatement of the public nuisance Hyundai and Kia have created or contributed to, compensation for the economic losses suffered as a result of the nuisance and injunctive relief.

Hyundai and Kia did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Last month Hyundai and Kia reached a settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit prompted by a surge in vehicle thefts.

The settlement could be valued at $200 million and covers about 9 million 2011-2022 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the U.S., the companies said at the time.

That proposed settlement is expected to be reviewed in court for preliminary approval in July.



  1. Should consumers have the right to buy cheaper cars that lack all the “bells and whistles” of the most expensive cars? Would a better approach be for insurance companies to give a discount to those who opt to purchase the extra security devices, rather than to force car buyers to buy them (which is the effect of mandating they be included in all new cars). Should the non-rich be even allowed to own cars, since the unwashed masses are free to take public transit, walk, bike or go on welfare (which is the impact of raising car prices higher than most people can afford).

  2. KIA CEO – But don’t we have to feel bad for those poor minorities that can’t afford a car? Of course, we should not put any securities on our cars so they can have the privilege drive a car too. Yeah, it makes sense that those rich Americans should fund for these to-be gangster getaway cars without letting our customers know…