DC Distributes Steering Wheel Locks Amid Car Theft Spike

Crimes of various types have become more common in recent years, particularly in Democratic-controlled jurisdictions with lenient prosecution standards.

Combined with the deleterious impact of a TikTok “challenge” showing how easy it is to steal certain motor vehicles, the number of auto thefts in areas like D.C. has skyrocketed.

Now, district authorities are rolling out a program aimed at preventing such crimes by installing a steering wheel lock on the most commonly targeted vehicles. Social media posts have detailed precisely how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models using a USB cable.

With 150 of these vehicles stolen in December alone, both automakers have teamed up with the Metropolitan Police Department and Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser to provide the security device to qualified residents for free.

In total, there were 3,761 auto thefts across the district last year, which represents an 8% increase over 2021.

In a statement on the matter, Bowser called the crime “a serious problem” that causes serious inconveniences for victims and often involves subsequent crimes involving the stolen vehicles.

“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,” the mayor wrote. “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.”

Police Chief Robert Contee added: “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.”

He called the trend “unacceptable” and vowed that addressing the threat is a “top priority” for his agency.

A similar uptick in such auto thefts has been reported elsewhere across the country — including New York City, where the Bronx and Manhattan have been especially hard hit.

“We see that 14- to 17-year-old kids are taking these cars and they might think it’s a joke, but they’re driving around recklessly, they’re hanging out the windows, and unfortunately sometimes they crash and people get hurt,” advised New York Police Department Chief of Patrol John Chell.