19-year-old charged in 7 Hyundai, Kia theft cases in Howard County
HOWARD COUNTY, Md. - Police in Howard County have charged a 19-year-old man with seven Hyundai or Kia thefts or attempts that happened in several parts of the county between August and October.
Howard County Police identified the suspect as Xavier Noel Mitchell, 19, of Laurel. Mitchell is accused of either stealing or attempting to steal Hyundai or Kia vehicles in Columbia, Laurel, and other neighboring jurisdictions.
Police say they also charged a 15-year-old boy from Columbia in a separate Hyundai or Kia theft case that happened Columbia in March.
The thefts come amid a recent rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts using a USB cable. The issue impacts Hyundais made between 2016 and 2021, and Kias made from 2011 to 2021.
To help residents of the impacted vehicles, Howard County Police are offering free steering wheel locks at the department's Northern or Southern District Stations. The steering wheel lock giveaway begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will run until supplies last.
To get a free steering wheel lock, you must a Maryland residents with a valid license and registration.
Police also shared the following tips for impacted vehicle owners:
- Contact Hyundai or Kia for information on their anti-theft software update.
- Practice standard vehicle theft safety measures such as parking in a secured access lot or personal garage if possible.
- Always lock your doors and consider activating tracking software or adding a tracking device such as an AirTag to make it easier to locate if stolen.