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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The City of St. Louis last month issued a letter to Kia and Hyundai giving them 30 days to alleviate the ongoing problem of car thefts or the city will pursue legal action. Today is the 30 day point.

St. Louis Metro Police have seen a nearly doubling of vehicle thefts of the two brands -- 4,671 in the first three quarters of 2022 to 2,834 during the same period last year.

The trend started in November 2020 when thieves learned via social media and TikTok that entry-level Kias and Hyundais built without an engine immobilizer are easy to steal. Kia and Hyundai made the device standard for all of its cars in the 2022 model year.

In Dayton, Ohio, Kia thefts increased more than 600 percent once online videos showing thefts went viral. In Milwaukee, Kia and Hyundai thefts increased tenfold.

Several class actions lawsuits have been filed against the automakers, including those from Kansas City, St. Louis, California, Minneapolis and Chicago.

Hyundai plans to sell an add-on engine immobilizer to owners who request it. Kia said they are considering such a plan, but are working with several law enforcement agencies to provide a free steering wheel lock.
 

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2021 Forte GT w/GT2, Currant Red, Wagner-Tuning Intercooler, Evilla Exhaust, Takeda S2 Intake
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At this point I think the best thing you can do is use a visible deterrent like a steering wheel club!
Why? Because if you have an immobilizer the thieves will not know it and probably break your windows to try and steal the car. If you have an immobilizer, you might not have your car stolen but you could end up with broken windows and a damaged ignition switch.
 

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2022 Kia Forte GT2 Steel Grey
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At this point I think the best thing you can do is use a visible deterrent like a steering wheel club!
Why? Because if you have an immobilizer the thieves will not know it and probably break your windows to try and steal the car. If you have an immobilizer, you might not have your car stolen but you could end up with broken windows and a damaged ignition switch.
My wife works at Amazon. She has been seeing a ton of steering wheel clubs going out the door. Most are Chinese junk. Be careful if you buy from Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At this point I think the best thing you can do is use a visible deterrent like a steering wheel club!
Why? Because if you have an immobilizer the thieves will not know it and probably break your windows to try and steal the car. If you have an immobilizer, you might not have your car stolen but you could end up with broken windows and a damaged ignition switch.
Agreed. My '22 has the engine immobilizer, but that doesn't mean a broken window and ignition will be any less painful.

I was surprised last week when an old Pontiac Grand Prix circled my Kia in the parking lot of my fitness center in the middle of the afternoon. I don't think he was admiring the color. He was scared away when another car parked in the space next to mine.

He wasn't what I expected as the typical joyrider. He was in his mid-thirties. He looked as decrepit as the car he was driving.

I think I saw a second person in the car, presumably the one who would drive my car away. St. Louis is not far. Lots of chop shops there.

Can't tell from one incident, but I wonder if professional car thieves are not picking up on the ease of stealing Kias and Hyundais.

I would buy a steering wheel Club but they are on backorder. Local police have nothing to give.

The class action lawsuits are being filed by some hefty law firms. Like the Theta II engine disaster for Hyundai, expect these individual actions to be combined into one mega lawsuit. In the Kansas City case, that firm wants to represent all Kia and Hyundai owners who are at risk of theft, not just the ones who have had their car stolen as in some of the other motions.

I watched the Theta II lawsuit unfold. It went from providing a remedy to owners with blown engines to all owners at risk for trouble. Here, all owners of 2011-2019 Sonatas got a free lifetime engine replacement warranty, a mega-million dollar headache for the company. I expect any Forte combined lawsuit to follow this course.

I don't think Kia and Hyundai have a very strong defense. Almost all other car makers have built in an engine immobilizer on their cars. As the attorneys say, KIA-Hyundai are naked on this point.

So, what will be the result of any class action? It will take years to wind through the system, but I predict one or more of the following:
  • Kia-Hyundai will concede to giving all affected owners a coupon for a steering wheel Club or other anti-theft system.
  • Kia-Hyundai will offer owners a free theft insurance policy.
  • Kia-Hyundai will offer some sort of compensation for owners who have seen their auto insurance premiums increase.
-Kia-Hyundai will compensate owners whose cars were stolen or damaged in a theft attempt.

Given that thousands of Kias and Hyundais have already been stolen, a judge could rule that all affected vehicles be bought back by the manufacturer. This could be done either by outright purchase or a voucher for the sale of a nlew car.

As in the Theta II case, potential plantiffs in any combined class action suit will probably be contacted with information from state vehicle records. Still, many Sonata owners did not get the info and lost our on their lifetime warranty. So, watch the news on this deal.
 

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The class action lawsuits are being filed by some hefty law firms. Like the Theta II engine disaster for Hyundai, expect these individual actions to be combined into one mega lawsuit. In the Kansas City case, that firm wants to represent all Kia and Hyundai owners who are at risk of theft, not just the ones who have had their car stolen as in some of the other motions.
The precedent this would set would be absolutely hilarious - there's an awful lot of cars from a lot of manufacturers who will be in the same boat. How far back would they limit it to? From July 2020 to June 2021 the top ten most stolen vehicles were: Chevy Pick-up, Ford Pick-up, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, GMC Pick-up, Nissan Altima, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, and the Toyota Corolla. Even if HALF of all the Fortes sold in 2020-2021 were stolen the Chevy Pick-ups and Ford pick-ups were still more stolen. Imma gonna get some popcorn.

Also, two points: A: as I understand it, an immobilizer was available, just not on all trim levels (hence the buyer had the option), and B: why didn't the federal govt simply mandate them as a requirement on all new cars, like most other countries have (it's been required here for over twenty (20) years)? Heck, even electronic stability control has been mandatory here since 2009.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The precedent this would set would be absolutely hilarious - there's an awful lot of cars from a lot of manufacturers who will be in the same boat. How far back would they limit it to? From July 2020 to June 2021 the top ten most stolen vehicles were: Chevy Pick-up, Ford Pick-up, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, GMC Pick-up, Nissan Altima, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, and the Toyota Corolla. Even if HALF of all the Fortes sold in 2020-2021 were stolen the Chevy Pick-ups and Ford pick-ups were still more stolen. Imma gonna get some popcorn.

Also, two points: A: as I understand it, an immobilizer was available, just not on all trim levels (hence the buyer had the option), and B: why didn't the federal govt simply mandate them as a requirement on all new cars, like most other countries have (it's been required here for over twenty (20) years)? Heck, even electronic stability control has been mandatory here since 2009.
The American legal system isn't logical? Been dealing with that for decades.

I came from the general aviation industry that was functionally sued out if existence. I remember one case to this day

A drunk with no piloting experience broke into a parked airplane, started it, got off the ground and crashed. The widow sued Cessna claiming the airplane did not have adequate theft protection. She won millions. When a juror was asked why he voted for the settlement, he said he thought the widow and orphans should have a lot of money to start a new life and the big manufacturer could afford it

Americans have been trained to hate big business.
 

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Just to be clear - from a news report:

"Criminals discovered that 2011 to 2021 Kias and 2015 to 2021 Hyundais equipped with ignitions that use a physical key, rather than a wireless key fob and push-button, could be started by using the tip of a USB cable, and the technique was posted online last year."
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Regarding the class action lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai, I don't expect it to go well for the companies.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that 96 percent of new cars sold in 2015 came standard with an engine immobilizer. At the same time, only 26 percent of Kias and Hyundais came so equipped. The majority of American cars sold without this anti-theft systems are Kia and Hyundai.

By adding an immobilizer to all of their cars in late 2021, the Korean companies will almost be admitting guilt that they were wrong in not following industry standards by U.S. jurisprudence standards.
 

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The problem is the people who want to steal cars. Don't lose sight of the real issue.
But you can’t make money on that. Welcome to America
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The American political system is run by lawyers, so is anyone surprised that the our tort system is designed to profit the attorneys first?

In Europe, if you sue someone or something for damages and win, you may get a modest punitive settlement, too. In America the actual damages are often pennies to the punitive judgement.

And in Europe if you sue and lose, you have to pay the fees for both sides.

Must be okay by most Americans. Only a few of us complain about it
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
On Sept. 22, Kia and Hyundai responded to the St. Louis demand letter telling the automakers to recall cars without the anti-theft immobilizer and install such devices.

Kia and Hyundai said they will not recall their vehicles, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. The companies said the thefts are caused by a unique social media phenomenon and not a defect in the cars.

St. Louis mayor Tishaura Jones said she may work with other mayors where high numbers of thefts have occured to force the automakers to recall the cars

In St. Louis there has been a 1,075 increase in Kia Hyundai thefts over the same period last year

A Kia spokesman said the company is working with social media sites to remove the videos showing how to steal the cars.

A Hyundai spokesman said it will offer to sell an anti-theft device to affected owners. Automobile News magazine estimates that cost will be $700 per car.

Hyundai sent 100 Club steering wheel anti-theft devices to St. Louis police to distribute last month. Another 100 went to the St. Louis County Police Cooperative and the University City Police Department.

Kia has sent 100 Clubs to University City Police only, saying they were the only jurisdiction asking for them.
 
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