NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A social media trend led to thousands of car thefts among Kia and Hyundai models across the country, including here in New Mexico. Now, Attorneys General are trying to get the models recalled.
“That’s not good enough, whatever they’re doing isn’t good enough. And so, they do need to be doing more,” says Alethia Allen, Solicitor General of New Mexico.
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The Attorney General’s office of New Mexico has joined in on the effort to get two car models completely off the roads. Along with 17 other Attorneys General, they have signed a letter that was sent out yesterday to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The issues began in 2020, when a social media trend popped up that showed people how easy it is to break into Hyundai and Kia cars and steal them. Some of the cars sold over the last decade, do not have engine immobilizers, a standard feature on most cars that prevents the engine from starting unless the key is present.
“They put the video on the website, they made it a challenge and then people did it and it’s blown up,” says Allen.
The trend inspired thousands of car thefts, and led to 14 crashes and eight deaths across the country. On the AG’s website, it states there were more than 30 stolen Hyundai and Kia model cars in Las Cruces between January and March.
The group of Attorneys General wrote their first letter in March to Hyundai and Kia asking them to address the safety concerns. Now a month later, the group has sent a second letter, demanding a recall.
“They were moving too slow and they weren’t doing enough to address this really major issue,” says Allen.
KRQE News 13 reached out to both car companies for comment. Hyundai said they’re committed to upgrading all affected vehicles and are communicating with the NHTSA. Kia says they’re also addressing the concerns, but that a recall is neither appropriate or necessary under federal law.
“People are dying. And this is just such a major issue and it’s such a major safety issue, not only our people dying not are crashes happening everywhere but we have law enforcement that is being diverted to deal with this issue that shouldn’t exist,” says Allen.
The New Mexico AG’s offices says they’re waiting to see how the NHTSA, Kia, and Hyundai respond to the latest letter before deciding how to move forward.