Cleveland sues Kia, Hyundai amid recurring car thefts; local lawsuit against TikTok also on the table

Cleveland has filed a lawsuit against car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai in light of rampant car theft in the city and surrounding areas that have drained police resources and endangered public safety, announced by the Office of the Mayor on Wednesday, March 8.

Officials say that the automakers failed to install standard anti-theft technology in their vehicles, making them increasingly susceptible to theft and leading to a viral trend on the social media application TikTok in which offenders steal Kia and Hyundai cars using USB cables.

According to USAFacts, nearly 3,000 car thefts were reported in Cleveland between July and December 2022—a 69% increase from the first half of the year.

“It is our position that Kia and Hyundai prioritized profit over people by not installing engine immobilizers in these vehicles,” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb in the announcement. “It is unacceptable for our city and our residents to bear the burden of this irresponsible and dangerous decision.”

The announcement further claimed that despite the automakers’ knowledge of growing public safety concerns, they continue to remain silent on the issue. The city of Cleveland reports a massive expenditure of police resources to counteract the thefts and other related crimes.

“The increase in theft is nationwide, not just here in Cleveland. It is certainly causing a draw on our resources,” said Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Harold Pretel. 

The city is also exploring possible legal action against TikTok, the app that popularized the car thefts, announced during a city council committee meeting on Wednesday, March 15. 

Cleveland State has seen a growing number of car thefts since the start of the 2022-23 academic year, with “29 instances of CSU PD responding to motor vehicle trespassing, criminal damage, and petty theft involving cars on and near campus” from Sept. 23 to Nov. 23.

Author: Mays Turabi

Avid writer, coffee-drinker, art lover. Oh, and co-news editor for The Cauldron.