City to sue Kia and Hyundai over increase in thefts in Rochester

ROCHESTER, NY – The City of Rochester says it will sue the manufacturers of Kia and Hyundai to hold the companies accountable for the costs associated with the increase in car thefts.

Mayor Malik Evans announced Monday that the city has retained outside legal counsel to launch a lawsuit against Kia America and Hyundai Motor America. This comes as cities across the country, including Buffalo, Cleveland, San Diego and Seattle have launched similar lawsuits.

Leaders across the country have sounded the alarm over rising car thefts due to videos circulating on TikTok showing people how to steal Kia and Hyundai models. Some of these stolen cars have been used to intentionally smash buildings during burglaries. Last Thursday, a stolen Kia was found at the scene of a smash-and-grab at Montage Music Hall.

In the first three months of 2023 alone, Rochester had a nearly 2,400% increase in thefts of Kias and Hyundais. The city says the automakers failed to add anti-theft technology so the cars are easy to connect with just a USB cable, which can be seen in TikTok videos. A lawsuit by the City of Buffalo makes a similar claim.

As of Monday, there have been about 1[ads1],230 car thefts in Rochester according to the RPD Open Data Portal. That is more than the whole of last year, which ended with 1,135 car thefts.

The city says the cases against the automakers will be coordinated in federal court in the Central District of California, where Kia and Hyundai have their US headquarters.

“The cost to the taxpayers of the city of Rochester is skyrocketing,” said Mayor Evans. “For law enforcement, property damage, impound fee waivers and public safety due to the decision by Kia and Hyundai not to install readily available anti-theft technology. These thefts negatively impact the quality of life of Rochester residents and the livelihood of Rochester business owners.”

The city’s announcement comes less than a week after a Kia believed to be stolen drove recklessly across the lawns and sidewalks of Franklin High School. In late March, four businesses were also damaged in break-ins around Dewey Avenue involving Kias and Hyundais. At least one of these cars was determined to be stolen.

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