NORFOLK, Va. - So far this year in Norfolk, more than 750 cars have been stolen, according to police.
And now, interim Police Chief Mike Goldsmith told the city council this week the department is launching a PSA to warn drivers of Kia and Hyundai vehicles they may want to consider getting a steering wheel lock as certain models of those cars are easier to hot-wire and steal.
So far, there have only been a few attempted thefts by hot-wire of these vehicles, but nationwide it is a trend. "It's something we're closely monitoring, so it doesn't become a problem here," he said.
Norfolk Police say there is a vulnerability in Kia models that are newer than 2011 and Hyundais newer than 2015, where people can bypass the ignition and start a car after removing the steering column.
At Action Auto Specialist off of Military Highway, Operations Manager Brian Glass says thieves recently hot-wired a 2016 Hyundai and stole it in the middle of the night.
"It was strange because this is a car that isn't something glamorous," said Glass.
It appears the thieves broke into the passenger side of the car, removed the steering column, and started the car with a screwdriver.
"It took them about 16-minutes to get that column off, get down to the nuts and bolts of the car, and take off with the automobile," said Glass.
The dealership got the car back, but the thieves damaged it. "It's really tough because we're a small independent automobile dealership. A lot of peoples' families depend on the success of this company," said Glass.
News 3 reached out to Hyundai and Kia. Hyundai didn't respond, but Kia told News 3 that all 2022 cars have additional security measures to prevent a car from being hot-wired.
AAA Tidewater Virginia says drivers may want to think about additional security measures or at least parking near a camera or in a secure area.
"Simple things, not costly things - really just being aware of your surroundings, being aware of where you're parking your car and just making sure it's in a safe location that it will be there when you get back," said Ryan Adcock from AAA.
At Action Auto Specialist, they've now added steering wheel locks. "The criminals are just getting smarter," said Glass.