HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A viral social media challenge has spurred Kia and Hyundai thefts nationwide. The challenge targets certain model years that lack anti-theft controls.

“We’re currently 69% higher than we were at this point last year,” Hartford police Lt. Aaron Boisvert said. “That is mainly due to the vulnerabilities of Kias and Hyundais.”

Hartford police are among the departments in Connecticut that give out steering locks to residents with qualifying vehicles.

“You can rest assured now and sleep a little more comfortable with this being done,” one resident told News 8.

On Friday, News 8 rode along with Officer Riley Johnson as he drove around Hartford’s Blue Hills neighborhood. He spoke with residents, gave out steering wheel locks, and shared what’s being done to thwart these thefts.

“Within the past week, I’ve handed out approximately 28 steering wheel locks,” Johnson said. “Over the past couple of weeks, the department as a whole has handed out approximately over 100.”

Once the lock is on, Hartford police said you can’t steal the car. They hope this tool will help deter these crimes.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of suspects are from Hartford, and they’re going into the suburban towns and coming back into the city,” Hartford police Lt. Anthony Pia said.

If you have one of these cars, you’re encouraged to:

  • Put one of these locks on your wheel
  • Make sure your car is locked
  • If you have another car, box your own car in the driveway to make it harder to access

“I’m so happy to have this and not worry again,” one resident said.