Ohio residents sue Kia, Hyundai over vehicle thefts

Ohio residents have filed lawsuits against car manufactures Kia and Hyundai alleging that the automobiles they built are too easily stolen.

Two federal lawsuits filed this month, one in Cincinnati and the other in the Northern District of Ohio, allege the companies sold “defective vehicles” at multiple locations throughout the country.

The Dayton Daily News has reported the past two weeks that Dayton Police said it has seen many similar thefts and encouraged owners to lock their doors, not leave keys inside the vehicles and park in well-lit areas.

The Northern Ohio lawsuit defines the defective vehicles as “all Kia models from 2011-2021 and all Hyundai models from 2015-2021.”

The suits say that the vehicles are defective because they were designed and manufactured without “engine immobilizers,” which the lawsuits say are electronic security devises that would make the vehicles tougher to steal without a key.

“This is a class action claim arising from a defect in defendant’s vehicles which make them easy to steal, unsafe and worth less than they should be, if they did not have the defect,” both lawsuits say. “Defendants did not disclose this defect, which is a material fact, and a fact that a reasonable person would rely on when purchasing a vehicle.”

A Hyundai representative said the company does not comment on pending litigation. But in a media statement, the company said it is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts.

“While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media,” the statement says. “Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021.”

“In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles,” the company said.

The company said the security kits will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and other locations beginning Oct. 1.

A message seeking comment sent Kia was not responded to Tuesday. Previously, it said it is “aware of the rise in vehicle thefts of a subset of trim levels. All 2022 models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the year or as a running change.”

Messages to the attorneys representing the Ohio residents who are suing were not returned.

Dayton Police last week said dozens of Kias and Hyundais have been stolen in Dayton this year and it is believed that viral videos on social media are partly to blame. Dayton Police Major Jason Hall said criminals are always trying to come up with ways to steal things and Dayton Police are developing plans to try to stop it from happening in the future.

Police also encouraged owners to invest in third-party anti-theft devices like alarms and vehicle immobilizers, such as brake and steering wheel locks.

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