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Tipsheet

Car Thefts Are Rampant in Dem-Run Cities, But Leaders Are Targeting the Auto Makers

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

Car thefts in St. Louis are on the rise, but instead of targeting the criminals, city officials in the Democrat-run city are blaming the car makers.

According to local media, auto thefts have doubled this year, with approximately 21 Kia and Hyundai vehicles getting stolen every day in July—a number that ticked up slightly in August, to 23 per day.

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City leaders blame Kia and Hyndai for failing to install engine immobilizers, an anti-theft security device. A TikTok challenge, “Kia Boyz,” that went viral earlier this summer shows how easy it is to steal with just a screwdriver and USB charging cable to hot wire the car, according to local reports, making it a problem not just in St. Louis, but nationwide.

“Kia and Hyundai’s defective vehicles have caused a public safety crisis in the city, endangering the health, safety, and peace of all those who live, work or visit the city,” city counselor Sheena Hamilton wrote in an August letter to the companies. “Your companies bear the responsibility to mitigate the public nuisance your negligence has created for the city and its residents.”

Chicago is also dealing with the problem.

“The viral nature of how this has taken off on social media — it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. “[The perpetrators are] doing it in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is as old-fashioned as you can imagine.”

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While St. Louis city leaders are reportedly planning to sue, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said auto makers shouldn't be scapegoated. 

"St. Louis has a violent crime problem. What’s causing crime in the city? The Mayor’s war against the police? The prosecutor letting criminals run wild? Evidently city ‘leaders’ think it’s….the cars. Yes—car manufacturers are to blame not criminals You can’t make this stuff up," he tweeted over the summer. 

“It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort,” a Kia spokesperson said.

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“While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and 'push-button-to-start' system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.”

Kia said it is providing free steering wheel lock devices to police in the most impacted cities, while Hyundai will also distribute them in addition to selling security kits. 

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