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Sen. Schumer calling on Kia, Hyundai after hundreds of cars stolen in Buffalo

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 27, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on Kia and Hyundai after hundreds of car thefts in Buffalo within the past two months.
On Monday, Schumer addressed his concerns about the car companies with Mayor Byron Brown, Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, and two drivers who had their cars stolen.

Jenna Haring and Lauren Washington both live in Buffalo. Haring's Kia was stolen in December.

"It feels very violating just that there were strangers in my car riding around," Haring said.

Washington said her Kia was stolen a few weeks ago. She said she knew it was stolen when she found shattered glass on her driveway.

"I was told that a group of kids came and broke into it joy riding it abandoned the vehicle," Washington said.

Their stories are like so many other Kia and Hyundai drivers in Buffalo where Commissioner Gramaglia said there is a major problem.

"These individuals are stealing these cars, they're not just joyriding in them. They're also using them to further violent crime. They're using them to commit further property crimes. We are seeing Kias and Hyundais being stolen at a rate of a dozen a night at sometimes. This is a significant problem," Gramaglia said.

In October, four teenagers were killed in a crash on the 33. Police say they were in a stolen Kia. Two others were injured including a 16-year-old boy who is accused of being behind the wheel of the Kia and is facing multiple charges. Gramaglia said in the last year Kia thefts are up 2270% and Hyundai thefts are up 2667%.

"This is a national crime based on defective or ineffective equipment in their cars. It needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed right away," he said.

Now, Sen. Schumer wants Kia and Hyundai to provide support to owners whose cars have been stolen by supplying free, anti-theft kits to drivers, developing a universal software fix for at-risk cars, and giving free steering wheel locks.

"Don't put this on the back of the owners, Kia. Don't put this on the back of the owners, Hyundai," Sen. Schumer said.

Recently, Hyundai and Kia announced a new free software patch for 8.3 million vehicle owners. The patch will be installed for free on vulnerable models.

SEE MORE: Hyundai and Kia roll out a software patch that makes cars harder to steal

Still, Sen. Schumer said these companies need to be held responsible.

"These two car companies made a big mess, and they, they have to clean it up," he said.

Sen. Schumer also said he is calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get involved and provide answers to the problem.