WASHINGTON - D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced that the District is partnering with Hyundai to provide residents who own or lease certain vehicle makes and models with free anti-theft technology.
Bowser says the Metropolitan Police Department and representatives with Hyundai are hosting a multi-day clinic at RFK Stadium where drivers who live in D.C. can have the new technology installed by Hyundai technicians. They say the service should take less than an hour.
The upgrade will adjust the controls on some Hyundai models with standard "turn-key-to-start" ignition systems so that locking the doors with the key fob will set the factory alarm and activate an "ignition kill" feature so the car cannot be started if a thief tries to steal it.
Engine immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles made after November 2021.
"The launch of our first mobile service center is an important next step in the series of comprehensive actions Hyundai has taken to assist customers and communities affected by vehicle thefts," said Randy Parker, CEO of Hyundai Motor America. "Our dealers across the country are currently maximizing the number of anti-theft software installations that can be performed on a daily basis, and this mobile clinic will help further accelerate completion rates. Our goal is to get the software upgrade installed on every one of the affected vehicles."
Hyundai says the upgrade is available for about 3.8 million vehicles. The makes and models eligible for the free technology installation include:
- 2018-2022 Accent
- 2011-2022 Elantra
- 2013-2020 Elantra GT
- 2013-2014 Genesis Coupe
- 2018-2022 Kona
- 2020-2021 Palisade
- 2013-2022 Santa Fe
- 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
- 2019 Santa Fe XL
- 2011-2019 Sonata
- 2011-2022 Tucson
- 2012-2017 & 2019-2021 Veloster
- 2020-2021 Venue
The clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Thursday, July 27 through Monday, July 31 in RFK parking lot 8 located at 2400 Independence Avenue SE.
"We are encouraging all eligible DC residents to take advantage of this free software upgrade," said Mayor Bowser. "We know that having your car stolen can be a frustrating, stressful, and costly experience. Earlier this year, we started distributing free wheel locks at our MPD district stations, and installing this anti-theft software is one more way for residents to protect their vehicles."
In February of this year, Bowser and MPD also rolled out a program to distribute free steering wheel locks to D.C. residents with 2011-2021 Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Click here to check the stock of steering wheel locks at your local MPD district station.
The increased anti-theft measures come amid a rise in car thefts across the District and other areas after a TikTok video showing people how to use a USB to steal certain Kias and Hyundais went viral. The trend has been referred to as "The Kia Challenge" by some.
Earlier this year, Attorneys general in Maryland and D.C. joined a group demanding a federal recall of easily-stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state leaders asked the agency to recall "unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 whose easily-bypassed ignition switches and lack of engine immobilizers make them particularly vulnerable to theft."
"It’s a real public safety issue and one that we believe can only be resolved by taking these unsafe and unprotected vehicles off of the street," said Adam Teitelbaum, who directs the Office of Consumer Protection for D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb.
Metropolitan Police say they will continue to combat the rising crime and remind drivers to practice the following safety tips to prevent vehicle theft:
- Never leave your engine running or leave your vehicle unattended.
- Turn off your vehicle and take your key fob with you.
- Lock your car.
- Take your keys with you.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
- Park in a well-light area or parking garage.
- Contact your local dealership for software updates.
- Call 911 for assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department if you see or suspect something out of the ordinary.