BALTIMORE, MD — A coalition representing elected officials from 8 municipalities across the country – including Baltimore, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Austin – called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a recall of Kia and Hyundai models with theft vulnerabilities.
The Councilmembers Against Car Thefts (CACTs) coalition includes legislators who have introduced or intend to introduce resolutions in their local legislative bodies that call on NHTSA to issue a national recall. The Baltimore City Council was the first to do so, and has been followed by Seattle, Philadelphia, Austin, and New York. Their work follows an April 2023 letter authored by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and co-signed by 17 additional attorneys general requesting the same.
“Our coalition represents the cities and municipalities that are among the hardest hit by Kia and Hyundai thefts,” says Baltimore City Councilmember Zeke Cohen (District 1), who convened the coalition. “These companies have created a major nuisance by failing to install industry-standard theft-prevention technology in their vehicles. These thefts are overburdening local law enforcement. Cleaning up this mess cannot be left to city governments alone. We need federal oversight to solve the national nightmare created by these manufacturers.”
According to November 2023 data, only 15% of registered passenger vehicles in Baltimore are manufactured by Kia and Hyundai, yet Kia and Hyundai vehicles accounted for 68% of vehicle thefts in 2023. In Philadelphia, while overall car thefts doubled between 2019 and 2022, Kia thefts increased by almost 800% and Hyundai thefts increased by more than 400%.
“Working families need safe and reliable transportation in order to thrive,” says Philadelphia City Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large). “In Philadelphia, car theft is skyrocketing, and Kias and Hyundais account for more than 60% of the problem. In cities across the country, these thefts are hitting working families hardest, and we deserve a national-level solution.”
“If you’re a working class motorist, a car theft can throw your whole life into chaos, destroying your ability to get to work, do school drop-off and pick-up, visiting aging parents, or meet many other vital needs,” said New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “When corporations like Kia and Hyundai, who rake in tens of billions in profits every year, put out sub-standard merchandise that can have such devastating impacts, the public needs to step in. It’s time for NHTSA to issue a recall on these defective units.”
“In Minneapolis, our community has experienced firsthand how the drastic increase in Hyundai/Kia car thefts have had detrimental impacts on our economy, health, and public safety. In 2022 alone, the City of Minneapolis had 2340 reported thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, an 836% increase from the same time in 2021. Over 132 vehicle owners had their cars stolen more than once, and five owners had their vehicles stolen 3 times,” said Minneapolis Council President Elliot Payne and Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison in a joint statement. “Multi-trillion-dollar companies, such as Kia and Hyundai, need to be held to the highest standard of due diligence, protection, and service of their products. When corporations are irresponsible in their handling of merchandise and services and are not accountable to the people they serve, they are endangering the lives and future livelihoods of our loved ones, neighbors, and community members.”
Featured photo credit: IIHS