City of Chicago files lawsuit against Kia, Hyundai, alleging ‘critical defect' led to increase in car thefts

The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against automakers Kia and Hyundai on Thursday, alleging that a "critical defect" in the two companies' vehicles has contributed to a significant rise in car thefts in Chicago, Mayor Brandon Johnson announced.

The lawsuit cites a "failure to include industry-standard engine immobilizers in multiple models" as the chief reason behind the rise in auto thefts involving vehicles from the two manufacturers.

Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles first gained widespread attention in the summer of 2022, when social media videos surfaced of thieves breaking into and starting Kia and Hyundai vehicles without keys.

The suit alleges that the defect impacts U.S. cars from both manufacturers sold between 2011 and 2022, while noting that Kia and Hyundai include the necessary anti-theft technology in their vehicles sold in other countries.

In addition to an increase in car thefts, the city's lawsuit alleges that the defect has in turn led to increased instances of reckless driving, property damage and other violent crimes.

According to city officials, car thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles soared from approximately 500 vehicles in the first half of 2022 to over 8,300 vehicles in the second half of the year, following the exposure of the defect on social media.

City officials said that over half of all vehicles stolen in Chicago in 2023 have been Kia or Hyundai vehicles.

In the complaint, the city says that Kia and Hyundai violated Chicago's consumer protection laws, alleging that a "public nuisance" was created by the negligence of the automakers.

Those who wish to inform the city on any issues they may have encountered with Kia or Hyundai vehicles due to their lack of anti-theft technology can send an e-mail to

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