Chicago Mayor Faces Backlash For Suing Automakers For Thefts

In the wake of surging car thefts, the City of Chicago last week filed a lawsuit against automakers Hyundai and Kia, accusing the companies of failing to equip their vehicles with anti-theft technology, CBS News reported.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 41 percent of Chicago’s 21,425 car thefts in 2022 were vehicles made by Kia and Hyundai, despite their models accounting for only 7 percent of the vehicles on the road.

So far this year, the Chicago Police Department reports there have been 19,062 vehicle thefts, a more than 100 percent increase from the same point in 2022. Models by Kia and Hyundai are again leading car thefts in 2023, accounting for over 50 percent of the vehicles stolen in certain months of the year so far, according to the lawsuit.

The city claims in its lawsuit that the car makers “deceptively” assure consumers that their vehicles have “advanced” safety features when they do not.

In its suit, the city notes that those targeting Kias and Hyundais are usually teenagers and young adults who take the vehicles to commit crimes or to “post videos of themselves recklessly joyriding.”

The lawsuit points out that stolen Hyundais were used in over a dozen murders in Chicago between October 2022 and January 2023. In May, a Hyundai was involved in the killing of Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston.

After 22 state attorneys general urged Kia and Hyundai to take “comprehensive action,” the manufacturers promised only to provide steering wheel locks to drivers in certain municipalities and release software updates, a response the lawsuit describes as “woefully inadequate.”

In a statement last week, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson described the companies’ failure to install anti-theft technology as “sheer negligence,” saying it has led to a surge in auto thefts both in Chicago and nationwide.

Johnson said the impact of vehicle thefts on city residents is “deeply destabilizing,” particularly among “low- and middle-income workers.”

Despite the concerns over the ease with which thieves can steal Kias and Hyundais, the New York Post reported that social media users accused Mayor Johnson of using the lawsuit to fob off the blame for his failure to address Chicago’s rising crime.