Lawmakers pitch bill to require anti-theft devices in cars made since 2013

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Lawmakers introduced a bill at the Minnesota State Capitol on Monday requiring anti-theft devices in vehicles 10 years old and newer amid a wave of Kia and Hyundai thefts that’s riddled the Twin Cities.

“What we have right now is a situation where a manufacturer has produced an automobile that is simply not safe to have in our community right now,” Rep. Zack Stephenson, D-Coon Rapids, said.

On Monday, lawmakers proposed a bill that would require manufacturers to install anti-theft protection devices for free to any vehicle made after Jan. 1, 2013, without an immobilizer.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara joined lawmakers to push for a quick solution citing an explosion in Hyundai and Kia thefts in Minneapolis and the surrounding area.

“This is something that young people are losing their lives over, getting seriously hurt and becoming more and more involved with serious crime because of a lack of accountability,” O’Hara said.

On Friday, mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul and Minnesota’s attorney general called for accountability, drafting a letter to the North American CEOs of Kia and Hyundai.

It demands both companies recall and outfit their vehicles with better anti-theft technology.

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From 2021-22, Kia and Hyundai thefts rose 893% in Minneapolis and 611% in St. Paul, according to city data.

And data from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension shows an increase in car thefts trending upward from 2018 to 2021.

Chief O’Hara said social media is driving the problem, referencing Tik Tok videos that explain how to steal cars.

Leaders across the state are demanding the manufacturers step up to the plate to fix the problem officials say they created.

“There are clearly some things we need to address on a law enforcement and criminal justice side, but clearly, this is something that’s easily preventable,” O’Hara said.

This bill would cover anti-theft protection for any car made within the last 10 years — not solely Kias and Hyundais.