Champaign Police Announce Program to Combat Social Media Trend

Steering Wheel Lock Giveaway Set for June 24

Champaign Police are announcing an opportunity for residents to secure their vehicles against an ongoing social media trend. Through a partnership with Hyundai Motors, Champaign Police will provide free steering wheel locks to Hyundai and Kia vehicle owners. The locks will be provided on Saturday, June 24, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the North First Street visitor parking lot adjacent to the Champaign Police Department, 82 E. University Avenue in Champaign.

“Champaign residents have started seeing thefts related to a social media trend in recent months,” said Chief of Police Timothy T. Tyler. “Champaign Police are working to stop these thefts, and helping our residents to secure their vehicles is a key part of that work.”

The steering wheel locks will be free and distributed on a first come, first serve basis to Champaign residents who have affected vehicle models. Specifically, the videos target Kia vehicles manufactured from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2021 without an engine immobilizer. Vehicle owners will need to provide proof of residency in Champaign and current vehicle registration to verify ownership of an affected Hyundai or Kia to receive a free steering wheel lock.

Champaign has seen a rash of Hyundai and Kia vehicle thefts linked to a nationwide social media trend. These thefts come after a series of viral videos depicting how to quickly enter and steal vehicles with limited tools or technical skills.

In addition to this program, manufacturers are also offering a software patch that renders the vehicles undrivable without a key. Kia and Hyundai owners are encouraged to contact local dealerships and schedule an appointment to receive the software patch as soon as possible.

Champaign Police have made several arrests of juvenile subjects engaged in this social media trend. Parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about the dangers of following destructive internet trends and the consequences of doing so. Individuals found engaging in these activities could face criminal charges.

Champaign residents who have been victimized by this trend are encouraged to immediately report the incident to the police by calling 217-351-4545. To report a theft in-progress, residents are encouraged to contact 9-1-1.