8,500+ vehicles stolen in Memphis in 2022, city councilor suggests legal action against auto manufacturers

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 7:18 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The 2022 crime numbers are in for the City of Memphis, and it was a roller coaster of positive and negative trends.

Homicides are down, but auto theft is up dramatically.

In total, 8,528 vehicles were reported stolen in Memphis, and what comes as no shock is that 43% of those vehicles were either Kias or Hyundais.

The social media trend we’ve reported on for months known commonly as the “Kia Boyz” has skyrocketed the number of these specific model cars that have been stolen.

What’s more, is the age of some of the car thieves.

MPD disclosed that of their arrests connected to these car thefts, 128 are 18-year-olds, 108 are 17-year-olds, and 110 are 16-year-olds.

“The fact that Kias and Hyundais are being stolen more than any other vehicle is not something specific to Memphis,” said Memphis City Council Chairman Martavius Jones.

After being presented with all the crime numbers from MPD, Jones referenced an article he read from Columbus, Ohio, that reads the city attorney’s office there is filing suit against Kia and Hyundai.

“Columbus, Ohio, essentially said ‘Look. There are an exorbitant amount of city resources that are being used for something that was the fault of the manufacturer.’”

In short, the City of Columbus is suing the manufacturers for not providing adequate anti-theft technology to the specific models that are at the center of this trend.

Memphis Police has recently given out wheel locks to the public, while supplies lasted to help combat the thefts. At city council, Chief CJ Davis expressed that auto thefts will remain a department priority going into 2023.

“We’re hoping to see less auto theft, promoting steering wheel locks, and all of the other types of mechanisms to try and curtail that,” Davis said.

Davis also mentioned that the department has more wheel locks they intend to give out to the public by the end of the month. The date and time are still pending.

In the past, both Kia and Hyundai have stated their vehicles pass safety standards and offer enhanced anti-theft packages that can be purchased at dealerships, at the car owner’s expense.

Jones says Memphis should monitor the ongoing legal action in cities like Columbus to see if this is a move the Bluff City should entertain.

“I mentioned it to the city attorney that perhaps we should see what direction that goes and maybe we can duplicate those efforts,” Jones said.

Action News 5 reached out to the city attorney’s office to see if this is, in fact, something they are monitoring and perhaps willing to pursue, but we have not heard back at this time.

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