To thwart car thieves, CMPD gave out free steering wheel locks

Looking to stem a rising tide of car thefts, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Saturday handed out steering wheel locks to more than 100 people who own Hyundais and Kias.

Thanks to viral TickTok videos, Hyundais and Kias have become popular targets for car thieves nationwide.

In Charlotte, the two makes accounted for 51% of the roughly 1,000 cars reported stolen this year as of March 11, said officer K.D. Merchant Sr., who works in CMPD’s Metro Division and organized the giveaway at First Baptist Church-West.

QCity Metro first wrote about the car-theft trend, called the “Kia Challenge,” in August 2022. Because of the way some Hyundais and Kias are wired, thieves can start the engine with minimal effort.

Merchant said he approached his CMPD supervisors about organizing the giveaway after seeing the problem persist.

“This trend has been going on for a decent amount of time,” he told QCity Metro. “I’ve taken enough reports; we’ve all taken enough reports. We’ve griped about it enough to where it came to a point where maybe we need to do something different to stop it.”

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