A Florida police department has partnered with Hyundai to combat vehicle thefts, by offering some car owners steering wheel locks.
Hyundai Motor America donated steering wheel locks to the Clearwater Police Department to give to owners of Hyundai vehicles, particularly those built before Nov. 1, 2021, without engine immobilizers.
Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts have skyrocketed across the U.S., with some major cities reporting increases of over 300% over the past two years.
Police blame a TikTok and a social media trend that began in 2021.
Videos posted to social media under the hashtag "Kia Boys," show people how to start Kia or Hyundai vehicles without keys, and instead with the tip of a phone charger or USB cable. The videos prompted juveniles across the country to try and steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
The trend resulted in tens of thousands of vehicles being stolen and taken for joyrides.
St. Louis, Missouri is one area that was hit hard by the auto theft trend.
This week, a service director at the Suntrup Automotive Group said its service team redesigned an off-the-shelf Bluetooth switch that could be hardwired to the car and immobilize the ignition.
The low-end models manufactured between 2011-2021, were built without push button ignitions and ignition immobilizers.
In areas like Clearwater, Florida, where the solution is not readily available, a more primitive means, like a steering wheel lock, is being offered as a solution, and for free.
Owners of Hyundai vehicles without push button immobilizers can pick up a steering wheel lock Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Clearwater Police Station on Pierce Street. To qualify, police said on a Facebook post, proof of Hyundai vehicle ownership is required.