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N.Y. PD gives out free steering wheel locks to combat TikTok challenge thefts

Teens are breaking windows and starting Kia’s with a screwdriver and USB cable before showing them driving in the stolen car


Photo/YouTube via WKBW News

By Stephen T. Watson
The Buffalo News

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Amherst police have received about 100 steering wheel locks they will provide for free to town residents who own the Kia vehicle models targeted for theft in viral social media videos, the department announced Thursday.

Police said they would hand out the wheel locks provided to the department by Kia America around the clock on a first-come, first-served basis to people who show proof they live in Amherst and who bring along one of the vehicles highlighted in the TikTok challenge.

People, usually teenagers, are stealing Kias made between 2010 and 2021 and Hyundais made between 2015 and 2021 that don’t have engine immobilizers. The thieves typically break a window and start the vehicle with just a screwdriver and a USB cable before posting videos showing them driving around in the stolen car.

The challenge drew national attention following an Oct. 24 crash on the Kensington Expressway involving a stolen Kia Sportage in which four teens were killed, a fifth hospitalized and the alleged 16-year-old driver was criminally charged.

Kia America had said it would issue wheel locks to vehicle owners, through police departments, to serve as a theft deterrent.

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