Traffic slows down as cars jam onto DuSable Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue on May 18, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

WEST LAWN — Residents of the Chicago Police Department’s 8th District who own a Kia or Hyundai can grab a free steering wheel lock at an event next month as thefts of these cars continue to skyrocket.

Vehicles must be registered to owners in the 8th District, which includes parts of West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, Ashburn, Midway, Gage Park and Archer Heights. Go to this website to find what police district you live in.

The event is from 8-11 a.m. Oct. 9 at the Pulaski Orange Line stop, 5106 S. Pulaski Road. People must register for the event with the Community Policing Office at (312) 747-8724.

The wheel lock giveaway comes as the city has grappled with a surge in thefts of Kias and Hyundais, part of a national trend that started when social media videos showed how easily they could be stolen.

Block Club interviewed several frustrated Kia and Hyundai owners affected by car thefts in August 2022, some wondering if the thefts were connected to the viral TikTok videos.

Over 7,000 Kias and Hyundais were stolen from Chicagoans in 2022, prompting Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to demand a federal recall of the vehicles. Raoul was one of several officials across the country to sign a letter asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take action.

Raoul’s office found the cars possess “easily bypassed” ignition switches, making them easier to steal. According to the city, Kia and Hyundai thefts account for more than half of all vehicles stolen in Chicago in 2023 as of April.

NPR reported in May that some insurance companies — including Allstate — have even stopped offering coverage to owners of vulnerable Kia and Hyundai vehicles due to the high rate of thefts.

Most recently, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration is suing the automakers, claiming Kia and Hyundai failed to equip cars sold between 2011 and 2022 with engine immobilizers, an anti-theft technology.

The suit came days after a federal judge declined to approve a class action settlement that would’ve offered cash to owners of vehicles prone to theft.

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