Louisville, Kentucky, has joined the list of cities suing Kia and Hyundai alleging the automakers failed to install an "industry-standard safety feature" which has led to a "spike in car theft activity and has created a public nuisance."
According to the city, 3,000 Hyundais and Kias have been reported stolen in the city so far this year.
"Hyundai and Kia have made our streets, sidewalks and neighborhoods less safe," said Craig Greenberg, the mayor of Louisville.
A mechanic on TikTok showed the security flaw. It allows thieves to start certain models manufactured from 2011 to 2022 using a screwdriver and a USB cord.
In Tennessee, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has also seen an increase in Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts. They recently released an update urging certain Kia and Hyundai car owners to go into dealerships and get anti-theft software upgrades installed in hopes of deterring car thieves.
The department told Scripps News it has seen a 410% increase in stolen Kia and Hyundai cars, with over 1,000 Kias and Hyundais reported stolen so far this year.
Sgt. Erik Nash with the MNPD's auto theft unit says the majority of those who are stealing these vehicles are juveniles.
"It's typically the younger kids that are doing it because of the social media. And they've looked at it and they want to try it. And when it works, they keep doing it," said Nash.
He says they're typically able to recover these vehicles within two or three days.
"Because they're using them for two or three days and then they're dumping them. And typically what they're using them for is they're going out and committing other crimes. They're breaking into other cars," he said.
Overall, vehicle thefts continue to rise in the U.S. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's most recent data, over 1 million vehicles were reported stolen in 2022 — that's up 7% from 2021.
The report also says three vehicles from Kia and Hyundai made the top 10 list of vehicles stolen nationally for the first time
Meanwhile some insurance companies, like State Farm and Progressive insurance are taking matters into their own hands.
State Farm told Scripps News in a statement that it's monitoring the situation, but for the time being "State Farm has stopped accepting new customer applications in some states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles because theft losses for these vehicles have increased dramatically."
Michael Barry, the chief communications officer with the Insurance Information Institute says this is unprecedented for the auto insurance industry.
"This is a highly unusual circumstance. Auto insurers are in the business of taking on new policyholders. And so I can't recall a time — and I'm almost in this business for close to 20 years now — where auto insurers were unwilling to take on new policyholders just because of the make and model of their vehicle. But it's because the theft rates became so high that the auto insurers were unwilling to take on the additional risks that these policyholders would have posed to them and the other policyholders," said Barry.
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