Pathetic: Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen Wants to Solve Auto Theft Crisis By Recalling Cars

Councilman Zeke Cohen Calls on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Issue Nationwide Recall of Some Kia and Hyundai Vehicles 

BALTIMORE, MD (November 20, 2023) — Today, Councilmember Zeke Cohen will introduce a City Council Resolution calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a nationwide recall for Kia and Hyundai models that are particularly vulnerable to theft due to manufacturing defects.  

“Baltimore City has seen a more than 220 percent jump in year-over-year car thefts, nearly half of which are Kia and Hyundai models,” says Councilmember Cohen. “Our police force is overwhelmed, and sadly, we’re in good company. Cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Denver are all seeing similar spikes. Municipalities across the country are scrambling to give away wheel locks as a quick fix but fall short of providing a lasting and sustainable solution.” 

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives NHTSA the authority to require manufacturers to recall vehicles if they have safety-related defects, but so far, NHTSA has declined to do so. If the resolution is passed, Baltimore City will be the first local municipality in the country to call for a recall. Other municipalities, including Rochester, NY, plan to follow Baltimore’s lead in the coming weeks.  

“We know that stealing a vehicle is often a ‘keystone’ crime which facilitates other crimes. Vehicle owners live in fear that, any morning, they’ll wake up and be the next victim of car theft,” says Councilmember Zeke Cohen. “When a child without a license can easily turn a vehicle into a deadly weapon, this is absolutely a safety-related defect.” 

2,645 Hyundai vehicles and 1,091 Kia vehicles have been stolen in Baltimore City this year as of October 31, 2023. Only 15 percent of registered passenger vehicles in Baltimore City are manufactured by Kia or Hyundai, yet they account for 68 percent of stolen vehicles in the City as of October 31. Despite opportunities for reprogramming, the widespread knowledge among thieves about manufacturing defects have made Kia and Hyundai owners prime targets for vandalized and stolen cars.  

“The increase of stolen Kias and Hyundais is not just a local concern; it’s a nationwide issue that demands a united front” notes Councilmember Cohen. “State and local law enforcement must join forces, working hand in hand to hold perpetrators accountable. At the same time, we call on the federal government to take a stand, ensuring car manufacturers rectify this security flaw. Through coordinated efforts at every level, we can safeguard our communities and ensure accountability from both offenders and manufacturers.” 

The Baltimore City Council will convene at 5pm this evening where the resolution will be read and voted upon for further action.  

WHO: Councilmember Zeke Cohen 

WHAT: Resolution calling on NHTSA to issue nationwide recall on Kia and Hyundai models 

WHEN: Monday, November 20, 2023 at 5pm  

WHERE: Baltimore City Council Meeting, City Hall Council Chambers 

1st District OfficeBaltimore City Council 
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