Skip to main content

Car owners in metropolitan areas nationwide have been reeling from triple-digit theft increases. The sharp rise in crime doesn’t affect most drivers, fortunately. However, that means Kia and Hyundai owners are targeted due to the year-long notorious “Kia Boyz” car theft campaign. But things are getting serious now as the largest city in America gets involved.

Car theft victims start class action lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai

Victims began pursuing a class action lawsuit against the South Korean automakers late last year. Filed in a California federal court, the suit alleges that Kia and Hyundai put profits above safety measures. The plaintiffs claim that Hyundai and Kia cars equipped with traditional ignition keys and not electronic systems were “deliberately” built without engine immobilizers. 

Tech Crunch reports the lawsuit asserts the companies researched fitting their cars with keyless fobs and engine immobilizers. However, the automakers “decided against it, ‘blatantly valuing profits over the safety and security of their customers.'” Moreover, victims of car thefts criticized Kia and Hyundai’s lack of effort in responding to the incidents. Only when 22 attorneys general penned a scathing letter to the manufacturers, Kia and Hyundai released other means of recourse before a pending software update debuts in June.

What does New York City joining the lawsuit mean?

NYC Mayor Eric Adams says city will join class action lawsuit against kia and hyundai for car thefts
NYC Mayor Eric Adams | Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Before the car theft campaign, a municipal spokesperson said about a dozen Kia and Hyundai cars were stolen monthly. But once the how-to car theft videos spread on social media, that number shot up to 100. With a near quadruple-digit percentage increase, it’s one of the hardest-hit U.S. cities in the last few years.

“We are not going to sit idly by while automakers turn a blind eye to safety and make it easy for criminals to prey on New Yorkers,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement, NBC 4 reports. “New Yorkers count on their Kia and Hyundai automobiles to earn a living,” he exclaimed.

New York City joins the current class action suit as the first municipality. This will undoubtedly give the case a bit more weight in putting it in the news and putting pressure on Kia and Hyundai. “We’re going to hold Kia and Hyundai accountable for the public nuisance they’ve created and protect New Yorkers’ cars,” Mayor Adams added.

Are the car theft videos still online?

Tutorial videos featuring how to start Kia and Hyundai cars without a key are no longer online. The videos uploaded to YouTube, TikTok, and other social media sites showed how to use a USB phone charger to override the ignition. All Kia Hyundai cars made after 2021 have electronic immobilizers. Therefore, they cannot be started by dismantling the steering wheel column and other components.

While the manufacturers are rolling out anti-theft updates on four million vehicles, many more have been affected. The last federal update asserts that 4.5 million Kias built between 2011 and 2021 are at risk. As well, 3.8 million Hyundais built between 2015 and 2021. As a preventative measure, Hyundai and Kia have made free steering wheel locks available to customers through local law enforcement agencies.


These Kia and Hyundai Models Deemed ‘Uninsurable’ Following Instructional Theft Videos Shared on Social Media