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Vienna police offer free wheel locks to combat rise in Hyundai thefts

Vienna police officer with a Hyundai steering wheel lock (courtesy Vienna Police Department)

Vienna residents who own a Hyundai can now obtain a free steering wheel lock from the town’s police department.

The Vienna Police Department has “several” wheel locks on hand from Hyundai Motor Company, which launched a national campaign in response to a TikTok challenge that has inspired an increase in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

“The Town of Vienna Police Department is taking a proactive approach to combat the uptick in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles across the United States,” police said in a news release. “Owners of these cars may be wondering how to make their vehicles less appealing to thieves. Locking a vehicle’s doors is a very effective deterrent but, adding a steering wheel lock may provide an additional layer of protection.”

The locks are available to Vienna residents in the zip code 22180 who own a Hyundai vehicle with a key ignition that was made in 2010 to 2021.

Starting today (Monday), the devices can be picked up in the lobby of the police station at 215 Center Street South from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

Thefts began to surge in 2021 when TikTok users started posting videos under the hashtag “Kia Boyz” encouraging teens to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles by taking off their steering wheels and hotwiring them with a USB cable, according to CNBC.

The videos revealed that models manufactured from 2010 to 2021 that use mechanical keys — rather than push button ignitions — are vulnerable to theft due to their lack of immobilizer systems, which prevent hotwiring using computer chips in key fobs that communicate with the engine.

The Fairfax County Police Department reported 28 carjackings last year, up from 16 in 2021, and seven to open 2023, as of Feb. 10. The data that the department shared with FFXnow didn’t specify how many incidents involved Hyundai or Kia vehicles, but it confirmed those were targeted in a series of stolen or damaged vehicle reports in Lorton on Jan. 14.

At that time, the FCPD said its officers had taken 24 reports for stolen Hyundai vehicles and 13 reports for stolen Kia vehicles between Nov. 22 and Jan. 17.

Hyundai and Kia announced in February that they will provide free software upgrades for approximately 8.3 million vulnerable cars.

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