Mayors Frey and Carter, Attorney General Ellison press Kia and Hyundai for safety recall

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Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison pressed the North American CEOs of Kia and Hyundai to immediately recall and outfit all Kia and Hyundai vehicles missing industry-standard anti-theft technology to stem the rapidly rising tide of vehicle thefts in the Twin Cities.

The joint letter from the mayors and attorney general to the Kia and Hyundai CEOs highlights a drastic increase in Kia and Hyundai auto thefts in the Twin Cities over the past year, including an 836% increase in Minneapolis and a 611% increase in Saint Paul. Many of these thefts have been connected to other violent crimes. 

The car manufacturers recently made software upgrades available for some vehicles. While this is a step in the right direction, a more robust and timely improvement plan is essential. The mayors and attorney general are pressing both companies to take immediate action to recall all Kia and Hyundai vehicles missing engine immobilizers—industry-standard anti-theft technology—and to equip all new vehicles with the same safety updates.  

In 2022, the Twin Cities saw 3,293 reported thefts of Kia or Hyundai vehicles—a figure that stood at 384 the year prior. Additionally, more than 198 of those owners had their Kia or Hyundai vehicle stolen more than once, and 11 owners had their vehicle stolen three or more times last year. 

“This crime is preventable and has a clear solution,” said Mayor Frey. “The type of car you have should not make you an automatic target of heinous violence and random crimes. There is an onus on these car companies to do the bare minimum here, which is including the industry-standard anti-theft software. Thank you to Mayor Carter and Attorney General Ellison for their collaboration on this – we all want to keep residents throughout the Twin Cities safe.” 

“The number of crimes committed in connection to stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles are staggering – and we’ve lost lives in our community as a result,” said Mayor Carter. “This is an urgent public safety risk that must be immediately addressed.”

“As the chief legal officer of the State of Minnesota, this issue has my full attention,” said Attorney General Ellison. “The harm caused by these companies goes far beyond car theft and has had a negative impact on everyone’s safety. We will continue using the power of the Attorney General’s Office to address this problem and use all the tools of the law to help keep Minnesotans safe.” 

National reports show that Kia and Hyundai vehicles are particularly vulnerable to theft due to their lack of anti-theft technology and push-to-start key systems. There are also several social media challenges that show the ease of hacking into these cars, encouraging people – especially young people – to partake in the crime. 

Minneapolis-specific statistics 

In 2022 alone, the City of Minneapolis had 2,340 reported thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, an 836% increase from the same time in 2021. More than 132 vehicle owners had their cars stolen more than once, and five owners had their vehicles stolen three times. Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts made up 37% of all vehicle thefts in Minneapolis in 2022. 

The Minneapolis Police Department has been working diligently to track these thefts. Investigators have seen many of these stolen vehicles used in the furtherance of violent crimes or involved in traffic crashes, some of which have been fatal. In the last year, Kia or Hyundai vehicle thefts were tied to: 

  • Five homicides  
  • 13 shootings 
  • 36 robberies  
  • 265 motor vehicle accidents  

These crimes have impacted people of all different ages and neighborhoods across Minneapolis. In December, a 14-year-old boy lost his life after getting in a single-vehicle crash that involved a stolen Kia. 

“The safety and security of all people in Minneapolis is my top priority,” said Minneapolis Public Safety Commissioner Cedric L. Alexander. “The Minneapolis Police Department is working hard to support victims of these horrible vehicle theft crimes – and to find the individuals responsible and hold them accountable for their actions. But this responsibility now goes far beyond a police response. While manufacturers have begun to address this, they should do their utmost to ensure that affected car owners take the steps necessary to prevent being the next victim.”

“The ease and sheer volume with which these Kia and Hyundais were stolen creates too many opportunities for both crime and tragedy,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara. “These vehicle thefts have endangered the lives of innocent people of all ages in all corners of Minneapolis. These vehicles are used to facilitate more serious crime and harm in our communities. And children not even old enough to have a learners’ permit have died while behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle. This epidemic needs to be addressed by both car owners and the manufacturers.”   

Daily Planet

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