St. Clair Shores police giving out steering wheel locks to Kia, Hyundai owners

(Photo: St. Clair Shores Police)

St. Clair Shores residents who own a Kia or Hyundai vehicle can get a free steering wheel lock from the police department.

Kia and Hyundai vehicles with keyed ignitions lack an immobilizer. This makes them easy to steal with a USB cable, leading to a spike in thefts.

In an attempt to curb these crimes, the automakers have been sending The Club locks to police departments around the country. St. Clair Shores police have a limited number of the locks after reaching out to Kia.

The wheel locks are available on a first come, first served basis at the front desk of the police department at 27665 Jefferson. Vehicle registration is required to get a lock.

Other area police departments have also been handing out steering wheel locks.

The vehicle theft problem has gotten so bad that some cities have sued the automakers. Last month, attorney generals from multiple states, including Michigan, sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanding a recall.

MORE: Kia, Hyundai thefts prompt Michigan AG, 16 other states to demand recall

As videos showing how to steal the vehicles in seconds were posted online, thefts spiked around the country. Many of these crimes have been committed by young people who often refer to themselves as the Kia Boys.

Some thieves are joyriding in the stolen vehicles, while others are using them to commit other crimes. In the AG's letter, they cited at least eight cases where people have been killed in incidents involving the stolen vehicles.

The automakers have implemented what they say is a fix to this issue – a voluntary software update – but the AGs argue this is not enough. 

These software updates extend the vehicles’ theft alarm time and require the key to be in the ignition to start the vehicle. The AGs say 15% of the affected vehicles cannot accommodate the software updates, citing a letter sent to them from Hyundai, adding that Kia has said an unspecified number of affected vehicles cannot receive the updates.