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Ormand Beach, a city north of Daytona Beach, Florida, is offering residents who own certain cars free steering wheel locks. The theft deterrent initiative was launched as Kia and Hyundai models continue to fall victim to the pandemic-era “Kia Boyz” challenge.

The “Kia Boyz” challenge started in 2021 while COVID-19 quarantines and social distance measures were in place across the country. The trend involved teenagers posting videos of stealing Kias and Hyundais using a USB-A charging cable.

In certain 2011-2021 models, immobilizers are not standard. As such, the steering column panel can be removed to reveal an inlet within the ignition lock components. A USB-A cable is inserted and turned to start the car.

A black Kia steering wheel is shown in slight right front angle with instrument cluster in background
Kia car steering wheel | Nils Bogdanovs via Unsplash

This design and the resulting thefts have caused huge disruptions for the automaker, leading to stock price drops, a class-action suit, and tens of thousands of stolen cars nationwide. According to Ars Technica, in 2021, Milwaukee reported a 200% increase in car thefts. 67% were Hyundais or Kias.

The IIHS has said that from January to June 2023, Kia and Hyundai thefts were reported seven times more frequently than other models.

Some thefts have resulted in additional damage, injury, and even death.

The Observer says Ormond Beach residents can call or email the police department contact if they own one of the following models:

  • 2017-2021 Hyundai Elantra
  • 2015-2019 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2020-2021 Hyundai Venue
  • 2012-2022 Kia Sportage
  • 2011-2021 Kia Optima
  • 2011-2021 Kia Sorento
  • 2011-2021 Kia Soul

While the automaker has claimed to have solved this particular vulnerability to theft in post-2021 models, some 2022 owners have experienced the issue. Kia has said that it can’t make any car completely theft-proof.

Sources: Ars Technica, Observer, Business Insider