🚗 Millions of vehicles have been targeted in a social media challenge

🚗 State Police join effort to curb stolen cars, handing out wheel locks

🚗 Hyundai and Kia have offered a free software update for car owners

A popular theft deterrent from the 1990s is back and being offered by State Police — to help battle a surge of stolen cars thanks to a TikTok challenge.

Free steering-wheel locks have been made available on a “first come” basis to owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in New Jersey, as millions of vehicles have been targeted nationwide.

Kia car theft lock giveaway NJ ( State Police)
Kia car theft lock giveaway NJ ( State Police)

State Police stations in Mercer, Atlantic and Passaic counties were handing out the devices, as supplies lasted, at the following locations:

🔒 Hamilton Station — 1400 Negron Drive, Hamilton Township (Mercer County)

🔒 Buena Vista Station — 1045 Route 54, Williamstown (Atlantic County)

🔒 Totowa Station— 250 Minnisink Road, Totowa (Passaic County)

release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

🚗 'Kia boys' social TikTok trend sparks stolen cars, including in NJ

After videos posted to social media showed how “easy” it was to steal certain vehicles that were not equipped with an “immobilizer,” young teens have tried out the social media challenge, according to federal authorities.

@nojumperA woman caught a kia boy red-handed trying to jack her car 😳 ♬ original sound - No Jumper Podcast

In response, Hyundai and Kia have both developed theft deterrent software updates for millions of their vehicles.

The updates extend the length of the car’s audio alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and also require the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.

The thefts, by often young teens, had caused at least 14 reported crashes and eight deaths as of February, according to the NHTSA.

In March, state Attorney General Matthew Platkin signed a joint letter pressing the automakers to take aggressive actions against the problem.

"We urge you to do everything in your power to accelerate the implementation of the software upgrade and to provide free alternative protective measures for all those owners whose cars cannot support the software upgrade," according to the collective of more than 20 attorneys general from across the country.

Owners of these vehicles can call either Hyundai (800-633-5151) or Kia (800-333-4542) for information on the free update.

Both automakers have also worked with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks since November, across at least 12 states.

Previously, "The Club" was a trendy purchase for car owners in the 1990s, as seen in an archived TV commercial on Youtube:

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Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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