CPD provides steering wheel locks in response to car thefts

By Lisa Chasanov, Summer Editor

According to a statement by the Champaign Police Department, there has been a rise in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles throughout the area as a result of a social media trend.

CPD said these thefts are likely the result of a series of viral videos instructing impressionable viewers to quickly enter and steal vehicles without need for specialized tools or technical skills.

According to CPD Chief of Police Timothy T. Tyler, Champaign Police are working to stop the thefts, and “helping our residents to secure their vehicles is a key part of that work.”

The videos reportedly target Kia vehicles manufactured from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2021 without an engine immobilizer. 

In response to this rise in theft, area police have announced a partnership with Hyundai Motors wherein Champaign Police will provide free steering wheel locks to Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners in the city of Champaign. 

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    “The locks will be provided on Saturday, June 24, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the North First Street visitor parking lot adjacent to the Champaign Police Department, 82 E. University Avenue in Champaign,” the statement said.

    Vehicle owners will need to provide proof of residency in Champaign and verify ownership of an affected vehicle in order to receive a free steering wheel lock.

    “In addition to this program, manufacturers are offering a software patch that renders the vehicles undrivable without a key,” the statement said. “Kia and Hyundai owners are encouraged to contact local dealerships and schedule an appointment to receive the software patch as soon as possible.”

    According to the statement, several arrests have been made in connection with the social media trend — primarily juveniles under the age of 18.

    “Parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about the dangers of following destructive internet trends and the consequences of doing so,” the statement said. “Individuals found engaging in these activities could face criminal charges.”

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