Philly police resume wheel lock program meant to curb Kia and Hyundai thefts. But only if you sign a waiver.

Philadelphia Inquirer Steering Wheel Lock 03.31.2024

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The Philadelphia Police Department is the only law enforcement agency Brooks has heard of requiring a waiver for wheel locks, devices that he said been “relatively effective” for decades at delaying or stopping car thefts.

“What is [the police department] trying to protect themselves from?” said Brooks. “I’m having trouble envisioning a scenario in which they could be held liable for providing an anti-theft tool to consumers.”

By Beatrice Forman
March 31, 2024

The Philadelphia Police Department is resuming a free wheel lock distribution program for Kia and Hyundai drivers almost a year after having discontinued it over legal liability concerns.

The program — offered by Kia and Hyundai to law enforcement agencies across the United States — is designed to deter break-ins following a nationwide surge in thefts of the car brands sparked by the Kia Boyz Challenge, a viral TikTok trend from 2022 that encouraged users to post videos of themselves stealing the cars with just a screwdriver and USB cord.

Thefts of Kias and Hyundais increased by more than 1000% from 2020 to 2023, according to insurance data collected by Highway Loss Data Institute, a car safety group. The trend exploits a lack of theft protections in turnkey Kia and Hyundai vehicles made before 2022, prompting some insurance companies to blacklist the cars and 17 cities — Philly not included — to sue the car makers over claims that alleged cost-cutting measures created a situation that strains police resources.

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