Mar 21, 2023 - News

Hyundai, Kia car thefts hit Cleveland hard in 2022

Police-reported car thefts in Cleveland
Reproduced from USAFacts; Chart: Axios Visuals

Cleveland saw a steep rise in car thefts throughout 2022, putting the city at the center of a national trend that's led to a federal lawsuit.

Driving the news: This month, the City of Cleveland filed suit against Hyundai Motor America and Kia America Inc. for their failure to install industry standard anti-theft technology in millions of their vehicles.

By the numbers: from July to December, 2,821 car thefts were reported in Cleveland, an increase of 69% from 1,669 during the first half of 2022, according to data from USA Facts.

  • Nearly 50% of the thefts during the second half of 2022 were Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
  • December had the highest total, with 699 reported thefts, 67% of which were Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

The big picture: Other major cities — from Atlanta to Baltimore to Chicago — also saw a rise in car thefts last year 2022, according to USA Facts.

  • Nearly 469,000 vehicle thefts were reported in 2022 across all the cities reviewed by the USAFacts data.

Between the lines: Thieves can easily steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles in seconds because of design flaws in the cars, Axios' Annalise Frank writes.

  • Thieves will break windows and remove parts of the steering column cover, then start the vehicle with a screwdriver or a plugin from a USB device.
  • Knowledge of this tactic came from a recent challenge on TikTok, which encouraged thieves to target these vehicles.

What they're saying: "It is our position that Kia and Hyundai prioritized profit over people by not installing engine immobilizers in these vehicles," Mayor Justin Bibb said in a statement.

  • "It is unacceptable for our city and our residents to bear the burden of this irresponsible and dangerous decision."

The other side: Kia and Hyundai both released new "theft deterrent software" for more than 8 million vehicles in response to the trend.

  • TikTok said in a statement to the Washington Post that it "does not condone this behavior which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform."

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