"This is insanity": Chicago sues auto manufacturers, literally blames them for the actions of criminals

CHICAGO, IL - As crime in Chicago continues to skyrocket, the City has taken an unconventional approach in its solution.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the City of Chicago is suing two auto manufacturers- Kia and Hyundai- blaming the automakers for the explosion in auto thefts besieging the Windy City.

According to the suit, neither auto manufacturer included “industry-standard” engine immobilizers in a number of its car models manufactured between 2011 and 2022, a move the city claims has led to the epidemic of auto thefts.

According to the lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court, the city alleges a “car theft crisis” caused in part by Kia’s and Hyundai’s “unlawful and reckless actions” in lagging behind other car manufacturers that have installed the technology, which allegedly prevents hot-wiring of vehicles through the use of a chip-enabled “smart key.”

“Unlike the movies, hot-wiring vehicles is far harder than it appears—unless that vehicle was manufactured by Hyundai or Kia,” the lawsuit alleges.

While some Chicago residents have applauded the move, critics of Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Brandon Johnson, are slamming the lawsuit.

Fox News reported Democratic Alderman Raymond Lopez mocked Johnson over the lawsuit. Appearing on Fox & Friends, Lopez called the move a “play from the socialist playbook,” even as violent crime continues to plague the city.

“Clearly, we don’t have a crime problem. We have a Kia problem in the city of Chicago, according to Mayor Johnson,” Lopez told host Steve Doocy on Monday. “The numbers speak for themselves. 104% increase from last year, a 234% increase in vehicle thefts from two years ago, but yet it’s the car’s fault.”

Lopez told Doocy that Johnson has ignored the problem while coddling criminals.

“It’s the fact that they are so easily taken by criminals who run rampant in the city of Chicago, but we have yet to hear our mayor say anything…one word…about the criminals running rampant in our streets,” he said. “And all he does in turn is lambast the media, lambast those who try to hold criminals accountable by playing word games.”

The lawsuit says the surge in auto thefts is detrimental to the city. “The surge in thefts has hit Chicago especially hard—placing pedestrians, drivers, and bystanders in harm’s way,” the lawsuit states. “This crime wave has also further stressed Chicago’s law enforcement and emergency services.”

According to the suit, over 8,000 Kias and Hyundais were stolen in Chicago last year, representing over 40% of total auto thefts in the city.

The problem was exacerbated when social media users began posting “how-to” videos that explained how to exploit the security defects in the vehicles. The trend went viral, showing how easy it was to remove a plastic cover on the steering column and use a USB cable to start the engine.

In a news release, Johnson declined to place any blame on the criminals who steal the vehicles and blamed the manufacturers instead.

“The impact of car theft on Chicago residents can be deeply destabilizing, particularly for low-to middle-income workers who have fewer options for getting to work and taking care of their families,” Johnson wrote. “The failure of Kia and Hyundai to install basic auto theft prevention technology in these models is sheer negligence, and as a result, a citywide and nationwide crime spree around automobile theft has been unfolding right before our eyes.”

Thus far in 2023, the city has seen 391 homicides and rising. Johnson has been criticized for his “light on crime” approach. For example, he has described gangs of roaming criminals who vandalize property and assault citizens as being “silly” and criticized those who “demonize them.”

Moreover, he appears to dismiss roving mobs by young criminals as “large gathering,” saying, “We’re not talking about mob actions.” This was shortly before 57 people were shot in the city on Memorial Day weekend after he released his “safety plan.”

Lopez argued that the explosion in auto thefts directly correlates to the city’s liberal policies that favor “criminals on the street.”

“Chicago’s answer to the Kia problem was to hand out those steering wheel column locks, The Club, as a way of helping our citizens, not necessarily prosecuting those repeat offenders who know that they could steal a car, sell it, or use it in crimes,” Lopez said. “I had a friend just last week whose car was stolen. It was used in 12 different robberies on the north side of Chicago.”

Lopez continued, “We know why they’re stealing these cars. We know what they’re doing with these cars, but the fact that we refuse to call out this behavior, and we’re giving cover to the criminals, seems to just be another liberal ploy,” he said. “And to be perfectly honest, a page from the socialist playbook, because we’re blaming the manufacturer of the cars rather than the criminals on the street.”

Chicago is the latest city to take legal action against the automakers. In June, New York filed suit against Kia and Hyundai, alleging they negligently failed to install the anti-theft immobilizers. That suit came after similar action by Milwaukee, Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, San Diego, and other Democrat-run cities.

In addition to the lawsuits, Forbes reported that a group of state attorneys general, led by California AG Rob Bonta (D), wrote to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last April, asking for the models to be recalled and retrofitted with immobilizers. NBC reported that NHTSA ruled the situation did not meet the criteria to force such a recall.
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