ATLANTA — An East Point woman has filed a class action lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai claiming their vehicles contain a defect that makes them prime targets for theft.
The lawsuit comes following a nationwide TikTok trend that shows users how to break into the cars and hotwire them using a USB cable.
Channel 2 Action News spoke to one victim in September who said he was a victim of the so-called Kia Boyz.
“It’s really crazy to think that it’s so accessible,” victim Charlie King said. “That all someone has to do is just break the glass and just go right in and take your car.”
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Mary Horne, of East Point, said thefts of the cars are up across the country over a defect in the vehicles and says the companies are refusing to install vehicle immobilizers that would help stop the thefts.
“Because vehicles manufactured and sold by Kia and Hyundai suffer from a defect, thieves only need to gain access to a vehicle, and once inside, strip the ignition column and insert a screwdriver, knife, or even a USB cord to start the vehicle,” the lawsuit says. “Despite the rise in vehicle thefts, Kia and Hyundai have not issued a recall or offered to install vehicle immobilizers in the affected vehicles.”
According to the lawsuit, Horne had her Kia Optima stolen in September.
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“When she recovered her Optima, the steering column was torn up and a USB cord was still plugged into the vehicle’s ignition,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit goes on to say the expenses from the car theft are ongoing.
“Plaintiff would not have purchased Defendants’ defective vehicle if she had known it was defective and more susceptible to theft,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit demands a jury trial to look into the allegations. So far, no ruling has been made.
In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, Hyundai said:
“We remain concerned about the increase in thefts of certain Hyundai vehicles that have been targeted in a coordinated social media campaign. Currently, Hyundai provides steering wheel locks, as available, to law enforcement agencies in impacted areas. In addition, Hyundai will provide two other options for owners of these earlier model year vehicles targeted by thieves.
- Hyundai has released a glass break sensor security kit that targets the method of entry used by thieves to break into these vehicles. These kits are available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. The MSRP for the kit is $170, and the estimated cost for installation may vary by location.
- Hyundai is also developing a software update to further secure these targeted vehicles. We anticipate that this software update will become available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with updates for other vehicles following thereafter.
“Please note that all Hyundai vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Some earlier models, without a push-button ignition, do not have engine immobilizers. In November 2021, engine immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced.
“Customers who have questions can contact the Hyundai Customer Care Center at 800-633-5151.”
Channel 2 Action News has also contacted Kia for a comment on this story. The company sent the following statement:
“Kia America is concerned with the rise in vehicle thefts in your area.
“While no car can be made completely theft-proof, criminals are targeting vehicles equipped with a steel key and “turn-to-start” ignition system as opposed to those equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system. Kia America continues to work closely with local law enforcement in affected areas to provide steering wheel lock devices at no cost to concerned owners of steel key operated Kia vehicles not originally equipped with an immobilizer.
“All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change, and all Kia vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
“In addition, Kia is developing and testing software updates to further secure these targeted vehicles and will share more information as it becomes available.
“Kia customers with questions regarding their Kia vehicle should contact the Consumer Assistance center directly at 1-800-333-4542 (Kia).”
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