Consumer Alert: NYC joins Rochester by suing Kia and Hyundai. What does that mean for you?

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — New York City is joining the growing list of municipalities suing KIA and Hyundai. They blame the automakers for the massive increase in car thefts plaguing the city.

By News10NBC’s Deanna Dewberry’s account, about a dozen cities including Rochester and Buffalo are taking KIA and Hyundai to court, saying the automakers decided to take the cheap route. And it cost cities millions to fight the rise in crime.

New York City’s lawsuit says the Big Apple has suffered “a virtual explosion” in the number of KIAs and Hyundais stolen. In the first four months of the year, the number increased 660% over the year before.

As bad as that seems, it pales in comparison to the increase in thefts here in Rochester. In the first three months of the year, Rochester’s increase was 2400%. It’s because KIAs and Hyundais are lacking immobilizers, anti-theft mechanisms that keep the engine from starting without the proper key.

New York’s lawsuit says immobilizers have been in cars since the 90s, but KIA and Hyundai’s failure to include them allowed thieves to steal the cars with little more than a USB cable. Some of you have asked if the cities win their lawsuits, will consumers who’ve had their cars stolen get some of the money. The answer is no. Cities, including Rochester, are demanding that KIA and Hyundai pay back taxpayers for the money spent for police, property damage, and waived impound fees. Rochester is asking for unspecified damages.

Individual KIA and Hyundai owners will get part of a $200 million class action settlement. It has to first be approved by a judge, then a website will be launched for consumers to submit their claims. On Wednesday, Monroe County Legislature President Sabrina Lamar called on the county to join in the lawsuits. She says taxpayers outside of Rochester have suffered losses as well and they should also be compensated.

“At the very least, Monroe County should join other municipalities in suing Kia and Hyundai,” says Lamar.

She called on the sheriff and county executive to come up with a plan. Deanna reached out to County Executive Adam Bello’s office to get his thoughts on the county joining in the lawsuits. No one responded to her emails. But taxpayers — don’t count your money just yet. There is little doubt that litigation against KIA and Hyundai will be in the courts for years to come.