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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Kia and Hyundai for Viral Thefts | KTA

(KTLA) — Last month, the Los Angeles Police Department alerted the community to a viral TikTok challenge that encourages the theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

One in five vehicles stolen this year has been from a Kia or Hyundai, police said, and officials believe this is partly due to the lack of an ‘immobilizer’, an anti-theft device that is missing from Kia cars. and key-start Hyundais manufactured between 2011 and 2021.

With no immobilizer, cars can be stolen with just a USB cable and a screwdriver.

On Wednesday, Orange County attorney Jonathan Michaels filed a class action lawsuit against Kia America and Hyundai Motor America. Both companies operate independently, but Kia’s parent company is Hyundai.

The lawsuit claims that the two companies’ decision to rely on older technology resulted in increased theft and loss of value in the resale market.

“It’s like one of the old-fashioned keys from the 1960s, just a real key. It’s the only manufacturer we know of that makes a car that doesn’t have an immobilizer,” Michaels said.

Michaels estimated that there are 10 million vehicles without an immobilizer and that each vehicle would cost around $500 to repair.

“It’s about a $5 billion recall,” he said.

Kia and Hyundai declined to comment on ongoing litigation, although they said they were working with police on the matter.

The trend of Kia and Hyundai car thefts has been felt across the country.

Earlier this year, Indiana’s Alissa Smart told Nexstar’s WXIN that she believed the TikTok challenge was to blame for an attempted theft of her Kia.

In Norfolk, Va., police observed a 35% increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts in the first half of July alone, WAVY reported. And police in other municipalities, like Beloit, Wisconsin, and Kentwood, Michigan, are urging Kia and Hyundai owners to take extra precautions.

The thieves have exploited the immobilizer flaw, and some are posting their illegal antics online, Sgt. Eric Brunner of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in Michigan told Nexstar’s WOOD. Rick Ricart, of Ricart Automotive in Ohio, told WCMH that as many as 30 Kia and Hyundai cars were towed to his shop for maintenance for a week in June, all with damage to the steering columns.

Smart, the victim of a burglary in Indiana, also told WXIN that she doesn’t think TikTok should allow the type of content that could lead to further burglaries.

“This trend absolutely disgusts me,” she said. “It really baffles me that people think it’s okay to post crime, let alone participate in it after seeing it online.”

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