ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congressman Joe Morelle released a statement on Saturday calling on the CEOs of Kia and Hyundai to address the alarming rise in automobile thefts in Rochester, as well as across the country.
“These known security flaws in Kia and Hyundai automobiles have left our community vulnerable and created a public safety crisis that demands immediate attention,” Congressman Morelle said in his statement. “I urge you to take responsibility for this alarming situation and accelerate efforts to ensure consumers are able to access security solutions free of charge. No customer should have to pay the bill for Kia and Hyundai’s failure to install standard security measures on their vehicles.”
According to Morelle’s statement, from 2015 to 2019, Kia and Hyundai failed to install certain anti-theft devices in many of their vehicles, which leaves them heavily susceptible to theft.
In 2015 specifically, Morelle says 96 percent of all other vehicle manufacturers had installed these safety features, while 26 percent of Kia and Hyundai 2015 models had kept that pace with the rest of the industry.
Morelle says the rise in these thefts comes from instructional videos on TikTok that detail how to steal these vehicles. Morelle urges TikTok to moderate videos like this on their platform.
The Rochester Police Department (RPD) says 116 of the first 168 cars stolen in 2023 were manufactured by Kia or Hyundai. They add that on this current pace, Rochester is projected to see more than double the number of car thefts this year, compared to 2022.
The RPD told News 8 recently that the number of car thefts is currently over 200 as of the end of January.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office are providing wheel locks to Hyundai and Kia owners after they reached out Hyundai to partner up to help the community. As of February 4, they are out of wheel locks, but say they are currently working to get more.
Morelle adds that a number of these stolen vehicles have been linked to the recent smash-and-grab burglaries that have impacted local businesses such as Record Archive, Petit Poutinerie, and others.