Hyundai Contributed a Massive 80 Club Wheel Locks to Cleveland Police in a Bid to Reduce Theft

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By Car Brand Experts

Hyundai has provided wheel locks to the Cleveland police in an effort to combat a series of thefts involving the automaker’s vehicles.

According to Fox8, a Facebook post from Cleveland police highlighted the high incidence of Kia and Hyundai thefts in the region. To discourage this trend, owners are urged to equip their vehicles with “The Club” wheel lock devices when not in use. In support of this initiative, Hyundai donated 80 such wheel locks to the police for distribution to owners, all of which were claimed in a single day. For perspective, nearby Columbus, Ohio, which is 33% smaller in size, reported 17 thefts of Hyundai or Kia cars daily. Authorities have indicated that more locks are on their way, although the timeline is uncertain.

Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become targets for theft due to a TikTok trend known as the “Kia Challenge.” Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the US market manufactured between 2011 and 2021 typically lack immobilizers, making them susceptible to being started by dismantling the interior trim and manipulating the ignition with random objects like screwdrivers or USB cables. As part of the challenge, numerous TikTok users have shared videos online showcasing them stealing and joyriding in the vehicles of these brands.

The situation has escalated to the extent that Milwaukee is contemplating legal action against Kia and Hyundai regarding this issue. The LAPD has even advised owners to install battery disconnect or kill switches to enhance the security of their vehicles and make them more challenging to steal.

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“The Club” is an anti-theft mechanism from the pre-immobilizer era. It comprises two extendable bars with substantial steel hooks. These elements are adjusted to securely fasten to the steering wheel and are then locked in place. Consequently, the steering wheel is immobilized, thanks to the extended steel bar attached to it. Although the device was launched in 1986, it was not the first wheel lock ever invented.

Initial versions of The Club could be overridden by freezing the mechanism with freon to make the metal brittle, enabling it to be broken with a hammer. Subsequent models transitioned to a chrome-moly alloy to prevent this method of attack. As the device gained popularity, thieves devised alternative techniques, such as cutting the steering wheel to swiftly remove the device. The prevalence of The Club in present times has decreased significantly, as immobilizers and other technologies have proven more effective in combating theft while requiring less hassle.

An argument can be made for The Club in this scenario, though. The instructional videos of the Kia Challenge merely instruct perpetrators on how to easily steal the vehicle. Observing a wheel lock in place may be adequate to dissuade thieves from attempting a theft due to the added complexity it introduces.

Generally, it is uncommon for a contemporary car manufacturer to provide archaic wheel locks to law enforcement agencies as an attempt to address a widespread theft issue. Installing factory immobilizers with coded keys would have been a more effective means to preempt the problem altogether.

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