CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is facing backlash after filing suit against Kia and Hyundai over claims they manufactured cars that lacked appropriate anti-theft measures, ultimately leading to a surge in car crimes.
Democratic Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) mocked Johnson over the lawsuit on "Fox & Friends," calling the move a "play from a socialist playbook" as crime continues to ravage streets in the Windy City.
"Clearly, we don't have a crime problem. We have a Kia problem in the city of Chicago, according to Mayor Johnson," Lopez told Steve Doocy on Monday. "The numbers speak for themselves. 104% increase from last year, a 234% increase in vehicle thefts from two years ago, but yet it's the car's fault."
"It's the fact that they are so easily taken by criminals who run rampant in the city of Chicago, but we have yet to hear our mayor say anything, one word, about the criminals running rampant in our streets," he continued. "And all he does in turn is lambast the media, lambast those who try to hold criminals accountable by playing word games."
Johnson's office announced the lawsuit last week alleging that both companies failed to include "industry-standard engine immobilizers" in several models of vehicles, which resulted in a "steep rise" in crime.
The lawsuit claims the automakers did not include "vital anti-theft technology" in their U.S. cars between 2011 and 2022, and it did so while misleading customers that the vehicles had "advanced safety features."
"The impact of car theft on Chicago residents can be deeply destabilizing, particularly for low- to middle-income workers who have fewer options for getting to work and taking care of their families," Johnson said. "The failure of Kia and Hyundai to install basic auto-theft prevention technology in these models is sheer negligence, and as a result, a citywide and nationwide crime spree around automobile theft has been unfolding right before our eyes."
The mayor claimed that after the safety feature "defect" was broadcasted throughout social media platforms, thefts began to surge.
But Lopez argued the surge in car thefts is attributable to the city's liberal policies that favor "criminals on the street" as opposed to vehicle manufacturing.
"Chicago's answer to the Kia problem was to hand out those steering wheel column locks, The Club, as a way of helping our citizens, not necessarily prosecuting those repeat offenders who know that they could steal a car, sell it, or use it in crimes," Lopez said. "I had a friend just last week whose car was stolen. It was used in 12 different robberies on the north side of Chicago."
"We know why they're stealing these cars. We know what they're doing with these cars, but the fact that we refuse to call out this behavior, and we're giving cover to the criminals, seems to just be another liberal ploy," he continued. "And to be perfectly honest, a page from the socialist playbook, because we're blaming the manufacturer of the cars rather than the criminals on the street."
There have been more than 19,000 car thefts in 2023 so far, which is an increase of 104% according to the Chicago Police Department.
In a statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson for Hyundai said that engine immobilizers are now standard on all vehicles made by the company as of Nov. 2021.
"Hyundai is committed to the comprehensive actions we are undertaking to assist customers and communities affected by the persistent theft of certain vehicles not equipped with push-button ignitions and engine immobilizers. Our dealers across the country are maximizing the number of anti-theft software installations that can be performed on a daily basis, contributing to steadily increasing completion rates, which we report to NHTSA weekly," the spokesperson said.
Lopez warned the Windy City will ultimately reach a "tipping point" from Johnson's leadership, and issued a grim warning should he continue in his predecessor's footsteps.
"At a certain point the nonsense is going to reach a tipping point," Lopez said. "We've seen actions like this out of Lori Lightfoot. We're starting to see it out of Mayor Johnson, and we saw how well that worked out for her."
FOX Business' Adam Sabes contributed to this report.