UPDATE: The Baltimore County Police Department has launched a public awareness campaign on this issue.
Original story below…
WASHINGTON—Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for millions of their vehicles that lack an immobilizer and will provide it free of charge to vehicle owners. The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.
The effort is in response to a TikTok social media challenge that has spread nationwide and has resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities. Approximately 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (toll-free at 800-633-5151) or Kia (toll-free at 800-333-4542) for information on the free update.
Hyundai will also provide its customers with a window sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection. Hyundai will send the stickers and roll out software updates in a phased approach beginning later this month, with subsequent phases over the next several months.
Kia is also rolling out its free software updates in a phased approach. The company will begin to update vehicles later this month, with ensuing phases throughout the next several months.
Concurrently, the companies have been working with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November 2022 to 77 law enforcement agencies in 12 states.
NHTSA encourages interested vehicle owners to contact local law enforcement to see if a wheel lock is available.