Wisconsin Hyundai, Kia Thefts Are an ‘Epidemic’ Says Class-Action Lawsuit

Just last month we told you the sad saga of vehicle thefts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Actually, we should say Hyundai and Kia thefts, because that is almost exclusively what carjackers want in the Wisconsin environs. So far in 2021, at least 2,559 Hyundai, and 2,600 Kia vehicles have been stolen. There is still the month of December to go.  Now, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Hyundai and Kia just for this reason.

What does the Hyundai and Kia theft class-action lawsuit allege?

2010 Hyundai Genesis
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe | Hyundai

The lawsuit alleges there are defects in all of the automakers’ vehicles, especially in the ignition systems. Plaintiffs Stefanie Marvin and Katherine Wargin allege Kia and Hyundai vehicles are targeted by thieves because of these defects. They are taking advantage of the poor designs, it says. 

Unfortunately for us, we are not privy to too much info as the lawsuit is under seal according to Car Complaints. But we are privy to the stats, as the Wisconsin press has been looking at the Milwaukee Police Department data. Because of those stats, the lawsuit goes on to say the thefts are an “epidemic” because 66 percent of all thefts involved Kia and Hyundai clips. 

Extrapolating further, Hyundai and Kia thefts just in Milwaukee alone have increased 2,500 percent in just the last year. Seriously! What’s worse is that many of the thieves are allegedly middle school children who find it simple to heist these vehicles. 

The Milwaukee thieves are called the “Kia Boyz”

A white 2016 Kia Sorento against a white background. There may be a new 2021 Kia recall if the NHTSA decides it's worthy of one.
2016 Kia Sorento | Kia

They even have a name; the Kia Boyz or Kia Boys. It is such a problem that the Milwaukee Police Department now gives out free steering wheel locks free of charge to help stem the tide. Here’s how the Kia Boyz do it.

They allegedly break in through side windows or pry out the rear window because it is not part of the vehicle theft system. Then they remove a panel where a USB cable port is located. Once that is removed, they tie into the car through the port to start the vehicle. 

Part of the problem is that the Kia Boyz favs allegedly don’t have engine immobilizers. Most vehicles with push-button starting systems have this feature. So there are problems at different stages of the theft, in total, making it easy to steal.

Who is included in the Hyundai and Kia lawsuit?

2020 Hyundai Sonata
2020 Hyundai Sonata | Hyundai

Those included in the class-action lawsuit include, “All persons residing in Wisconsin who purchased or leased a Class Vehicle,” as well as two sub-classes: (1) “[a]ll persons residing in Wisconsin who purchased or leased a Class Vehicle that was stolen, which required that person to satisfy a deductible on an auto insurance policy to have the car repaired and/or replaced,” and (2) “all adult persons residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose safety is affected as a result of this ‘epidemic’ and whose insurance premiums have or will increase as a result of the ease with which the Class Vehicles can be stolen.”

It continues, “As the Complaint details, these car thieves figured out what an entire team of Hyundai and Kia engineers seemingly missed: the companies’ vehicles are designed and manufactured with subpar security measures, thereby making them incredibly easy to steal. These design flaws pose significant safety risks and create a substantial financial burden for consumers.” 

If the state police numbers are accurate, and we have no reason not to think that they are, then the lawsuit has a point. The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin.

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