DC Mayor Offers Free Wheel Locks To Prevent Car Thefts

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Washington, D.C, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will be offering free steering wheel locks to residents to stem a rise in car thefts, Bowser’s office announced Thursday.

The MPD, in partnership with Kia and Hyundai corporations, is offering free steering wheel locks to any D.C. resident who owns a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai vehicle, a press release from Bowser’s office read. This initiative follows a rising trend of car thefts in those particular vehicles due to a social media challenge made public in the summer of 2022 that detailed how to steal the vehicles using a USB cable, the release stated. (RELATED: Teens Lead Explosion In DC Carjackings, Most Have Prior Criminal Records)

“Car theft is a serious problem – it is incredibly stressful and often costly and time-consuming for the victims, and it is dangerous to have these stolen cars on the road. I encourage all DC residents who own a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai to pick up their free steering wheel locks as soon as possible from a District station to prevent theft. As MPD and our public safety partners work together to prevent car theft and hold accountable those who are stealing cars in our city, this is one way we can work together to proactively prevent crime,” Bowser said in the release.

Other police departments across the country have offered similar initiatives for the same reason. The Kent Police Department in King County, Washington, offered free wheel locks to Kia and Hyundai owners after thefts of those vehicles jumped from 363% in 2021 to 503% in 2022. Several cities in northeastern Ohio have also jumped on the initiative where one county saw 800 vehicles stolen in a two month period, according to WKYC.

The problem has become so widespread that insurance companies like Progressive and State Farm have been forced to drop coverage for certain Kia and Hyundai models due to their lack of anti-theft devices, USAToday reported.

In 2022, Washington, D.C., saw a total of 3,761 vehicle thefts – an 8% increase from the previous year, the statement read.

Theft is just the start of the problem, the MPD stated, revealing that the stolen vehicles are often used by perpetrators to commit more crime.

“We are seeing that many of the vehicles stolen in the District are later being used to commit acts of violent crime in our city. This is unacceptable. The Metropolitan Police Department’s top priority is to ensure that every resident and visitor of this city is safe from becoming a victim of a crime, and that the violent offenders that choose to act recklessly are being held accountable for their actions,” MPD Police Chief Robert J. Contee III stated in the release.

Residents who qualify will be given the wheel locks on a first-come, first-serve basis, the release stated.