Baltimore County Police Providing Free Steering Wheel Locks To Kia And Hyundai Owners
BALTIMORE COUNTY - In response to a Tik Tok trend encouraging people to steal Kia and Hyundai cars, the Baltimore County Police have announced that they will give away steering wheel locks.
On Saturday, officials said that they would be helping the Hyundai corporation by providing free steering wheel locks to county residents who own a Hyundai vehicle manufactured between 2016 and 2021 that does not have a key fob or a push-button that starts the car.
"Protecting those who live, work and visit Baltimore County is our top priority, and this campaign is one way we can achieve that," interim Baltimore County police chief Dennis Delp said in a statement.
To qualify for a steering wheel lock, county residents must provide a copy of their vehicle registration to the Baltimore County Police Department, police said.
County residents can email that information to the Baltimore County Police at Wheellockprogram@baltimorecountymd.gov.
Anyone who does not have access to a computer can contact 410-887-2210 for assistance, police said.
Registration is required since supplies are limited. According to authorities, emails must be received by Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
On Tuesday of last week, Hyundai started rolling out software updates for nearly four million vehicles beginning with Elantras manufactured between 2017-2020, Sonatas made between 2015-2019, and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles.
The update extends the length of the car alarm from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are eligible for the update.
Police said that the upgrade can be performed at licensed Kia dealers and takes less than an hour to complete. Additionally, any vehicle that received the upgrade will be given a sticker to inform would-be thieves of the increased security.
Vehicle owners can contact Hyundai at 800-633-5151 and Kia at 800-333-4542 for information on the software update.
How a Tik Tok trend of stealing Hyundai cars has led to crashes and deaths:
A recent Tik Tok trend challenges teens to steal a car off the street by breaking into the car, popping off the steering wheel column, and hot-wiring the vehicle using a USB cable.
Certain makes and models of 2010-2021 Kia and Hyundai vehicles that use a mechanical key, not a key fob and push-button to start the car, are vulnerable to the attack. These vehicles are not equipped with an "immobilizer," a device that prevents a car from moving if the wrong key or no key is used to start the vehicle.
CNBC reports that in St. Petersburg, Florida, police reported more than a third of all car thefts since mid-July are linked to the TikTok challenge. Los Angeles officials say the viral trend has led to an 85% increase in car theft of Hyundais and Kias compared with last year.
According to officials, in October, a car crash in Buffalo, New York, left four teenagers dead and may have been linked to the TikTok challenge.
Additionally, insurance companies have taken notice of the elevated theft rates for certain Kias and Hyundais. CBS News reports that in January, State Farm said it would temporarily stop offering insurance for some model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in some states.