Kia and Hyundai Owners Given Steering Wheel Locks After TikTok Challenge Thefts

Kia and Hyundai owners have been offered an odd but simple solution to the ongoing thefts. Local police departments are giving Kia and Hyundai owners the ability to pick up a free steering wheel lock this week to help deter thieves. What is the Kia Boyz challenge? A recent social media trend encourages kids to steal cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles that lack a specific attribute.

Kia and Hyundai owners can pick up steering wheel locks from the local police

Kia and Hyundai owners given steering wheel locks
The shattered window of a car struck after an attempted robbery | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Police in St. Louis City, Missouri, have offered to help Kia and Hyundai owners in the area. According to local news station KMOV, the North County Police Cooperative will hand out steering wheel locks. The issue with Kia and Hyundai cars, trucks, and SUVs has been ongoing for more than a year.

Thieves can easily access Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which has caused an increase in thefts in the area. At one point, St. Louis City said it planned to sue Hyundai and Kia due to the issues. Since the automaker has offered no solution to deter thefts, the vehicles are stolen at a high rate. This has also increased calls for stolen vehicles that the police department has to investigate.

What is the issue with these cars? Some of the model years lack engine immobilizer. KMOV says that Hyundai issued a statement last week acknowledging the problem. The full statement notes that while the Hyundai Motor America vehicles meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, thieves have discovered a loophole.

Stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles make up 77% of the stolen cars in The City of St. Louis

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A recent social media trend has challenged people to steal these vehicles thanks to the lack of engine immobilizers. Hyundai says these engine immobilizers became standard on all vehicles after November 1, 2021. Without this technology, thieves can use a USB cable to start the Kia or Hyundai and take off without notice.

The automaker also noted it would work with local police departments to help get steering wheel locks to those who need it. Hyundai said it would be offering a security kit for people to buy. Pricing has not been released on that yet, but the full statement is below.

“Hyundai Motor America is concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles. While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media.  Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021.

In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.  

Beginning October 1, 2022, this security kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country. Hyundai will provide additional details soon, and customers who have questions can always contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at 800-633-5151.”

Hyundai Motor America

More information on the security kit will be out next month.

The massive increase in vehicle thefts has created a steering wheel lock shortage

If you are outside of St. Louis but are also experiencing a rash of Kia and Hyundai hefts in your area, check your local police station. Kia and Hyundai owners are eligible to get a steering wheel lock if the vehicle is impacted. Residents who fill out the survey provided by the PD by September 9, 2022, are guaranteed a lock. Otherwise, these anti-theft devices will be first come, first serve.

AAA is recommending that owners park in a locked driveway if possible. Otherwise, try to park in a well-lit area with a lot of foot traffic to dissuade thefts. While Dodge vehicles are usually at the top of the “most stolen” lists, it appears Kia and Hyundai are temporarily taking that crown.

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This article was updated on 9/16/2022.