Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison filed a lawsuit Monday against car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai for failing to install anti-theft technology in some vehicles, which has contributed to an increase in car thefts in the area.
According to the city, Kia and Hyundai are aware of public safety issues surrounding the spike in theft with their vehicles and have not made steps to alleviate those concerns.
From 2021 to 2022, Kia and Hyundai thefts increased by 363% and 503%, respectively, in Seattle. In July 2022, the Seattle Police Department saw an increase of 620% in reports of stolen Kia and Hyundais, compared to July 2021.
“Kia and Hyundai chose to cut corners and cut costs at the expense of their customers and the public. As a result, our police force has had to tackle a huge rise in vehicle theft and related problems with already stretched resources. Now Seattle taxpayers must shoulder the burden of the increase in theft,” said Davison. “Kia and Hyundai need to take responsibility for the public safety hazard that they created.”
Police believe viral videos have taught thieves how easily these vehicles can be stolen — some with just a USB cable.
According to the media release, many of the stolen vehicles have been involved in major accidents, while some have also been used to commit further violent acts, such as armed robberies.
The city is seeking to recover damages and to compel the car manufacturers to install anti-theft technology in unprotected vehicles.