HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Police say car thefts are on the rise in the Richmond area, and a trend of Kia and Hyundai owners being targeted has only gotten worse.
Henrico Police said they’ve received 37 reports of Hyundai and Kia thefts since Jan. 1. They noted thieves are specifically targeting brands manufactured between 2010 and 2021 that use a mechanical key.
In most of these cases, police said significant damage is done to the steering columns of the vehicles.
Richmond Police posted to Twitter Tuesday encouraging drivers to use steering wheel locks to protect their cars from being stolen.
🚨Attention Kia and Hyundai owners: RPD urges you to consider using a steering wheel lock as protection your vehicle.— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) May 30, 2023
There has been an uptick in the number of Kia and Hyundai vehicles stolen and a steering wheel lock may deter potential thieves.
Don’t be a victim, be proactive. pic.twitter.com/UAMQDzDxAi
Hyundai recently announced a free anti-software upgrade will be available to all eligible affected vehicles by June.
That upgrade must be done between the vehicle’s owner and dealership, and Hyundai says the process will take less than an hour.
After the upgrade is complete, the length of the alarm will be extended from 30 seconds to a full minute.
It will also require the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on, and decals will be placed on the windows to alert would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with enhanced anti-theft technology.
If your model of Hyundai or Kia is one of the few that isn’t eligible for the free upgrade, both manufacturers are offering free steering wheel locks.
Hyundai noted they are working on a program to reimburse you if you have already purchased one.
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