BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The City of Buffalo sued car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai over the recent spike in stolen vehicles, which Mayor Byron Brown said is sucking up “precious police resources,” costs the community money, and makes a nightmare for the owners of the vehicles.

Kia and Hyundai thefts in Buffalo rose 2000 percent in January versus the year prior, Brown said. About 60 percent of all stolen vehicles in the city this year are Kia or Hyundai models, he added.

Buffalo is the first city in New York State to file the lawsuit, but joins seven other cities across the U.S; including Seattle, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Madison, and Milwaukee.

The lawsuit also comes after four teens were killed in a crash on Route 33 after stealing a Kia in October.

“It has to stop; Kia, Hyundai can stop it, it’s an easy fix,” Brown said. “They need to recall these vehicles and install engine immobilizers and that is what we’re pushing for.”

In Canada and Europe, Kias and Hyundais come equipped with immobilizers. In the U.S. the technology has been an industry standard; by 2015, 96 percent of automobiles from other manufacturers had immobilizers. However, entry-and-mid-level Kias and Hyundais have been the exception, according to a city press release.

Only 26 percent of 2015-year model Kias and Hyundais included immobilizers, leaving almost 75 percent of the vehicles unreasonably easy to steal, the press release says.

Since the fatal crash, multiple municipalities have issued limited numbers of free steering wheel locks to Kia owners.

Brown said that the city is asking for damages, cost of police response, and wants the owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles to be compensated.

“Most other manufacturers install this technology, it makes it a to harder to steal vehicles,” said Brown. “Kia and Hyundai, for financial reasons, have not installed these devices and it takes precious police resources, it costs the community money, and it’s a nightmare for the owners of these vehicles. “

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.