Baltimore City residents can pick up a free steering wheel lock on Tuesday at Greater Paradise Christian Center as part of an ongoing response to the rise in thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott posted about the giveaway on social media Friday, saying that the city is taking an “all of the above approach to reduce the risk of auto theft in our communities.”
The event starts at 4:30 p.m. and runs for two hours. Vehicle owners are asked to bring photo identification confirming they live in the city as well as proof that the car they own is a Kia or Hyundai, a Baltimore Police spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. Owners are limited to one per vehicle.
The steering wheel locks were donated to the Baltimore Police Department by Kia and Hyundai, the statement continued. Three hundred will be available at Tuesday’s event and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. More than 2,600 free steering wheel locks have already gone out to Baltimore City residents, police said.
Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley will be at the Berea neighborhood event and stay for a subsequent public safety conversation.
As videos demonstrating how to easily steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles have drawn millions of views on social media this year, Baltimore City has seen an alarming increase in the number of auto thefts in 2023.
Baltimore City has filed a federal lawsuit against the auto makers, arguing that they created a public nuisance by manufacturing vehicles that could be stolen so easily. The city says this, in turn, has required it to divert additional police resources to address the issue.
In a previous statement to The Baltimore Banner in March, Hyundai said it had launched a free software upgrade to prevent the type of theft popularized on social media and had been reimbursing owners and those leasing vehicles for the cost of steering wheel locks.
Hyundai, which acquired Kia in 1998, has shipped tens of thousands of wheel locks to law enforcement agencies nationwide.