WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW) – One after another, Hyundai and KIA vehicle owners pulled into the Westlake Police Department Thursday night on Hilliard Boulevard after an alert posted on the department’s Facebook Page.
“We’ve seen an increase across the whole region with KIA and Hyundai thefts,” said Capt. Gerry Vogel. “So I reached out to Hyundai to see if we could help stem this kind of theft and they said yes.”
The automaker provided police with more than 100 anti-theft steering wheel locks, or CLUBs, to give away to KIA and Hyundai owners for free. Police notified Fox 8 Friday morning that all the 5wheel locks had been given away.
The surge in thefts is directly linked to videos posted on TikTok showing people how to steal those vehicles, which are models with keyed ignitions.
“I know how popular TikTok is and yeah, it’s awful people are being encouraged and challenged to do these sort of crimes,” said Brent Henry, who stopped by WPD on his way home from work to secure one of the CLUBs.
A statement Hyundai sent to police said, in part,
“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.”
The company says they’re working on a more permanent solution to fix the issue and that, “Beginning October 1 ‘security kits’ will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country.”
Other police departments have already contacted Westlake police investigating how they too can obtain some of the CLUBs for their citizens.
Car owners can also contact the carmakers directly.
Customers with questions can contact the Hyundai Consumer Assistance Center at (800) 633-5151.
“The most important thing for people to remember is please lock up your cars, take your keys out, take your valuables out of cars. Specifically with the Hyundais and KIAs, if you can put it in a garage for now, and if you do need to park outside, try using a device like this (CLUB) or others you can get over the internet,” said Capt. Vogel.