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SLMPD ran out of car clubs within an hour at free giveaway

Hundreds of Kia and Hyundai car owners showed up to Crown Mart off Delmar Boulevard on Wednesday for a free car club after a rise in thefts of those specific models.

ST. LOUIS — So far this year, more than 1,200 Kias and Hyundais have been stolen in St. Louis City alone.

KIA owner Fenner Perkins showed up to the Crown Mart off Delmar two hours early to get a free car club.

"I've been here since 1 o'clock, now you can see all these cars. I was the first one here," Perkins said.

Hundreds of KIA and Hyundai owners came to the giveaway after a rise in thefts from people hijacking those models using USB cords as keys.

"This is the key right here. This how they're stealing your car," Perkins said.

"Nobody should be able to steal a car with a USB. A car charger? A phone charger? No," Kenny Rhodes said.

"Six people that I know, yeah, stolen," Cathy Jones said.

"Over the past months we have had a rash of vehicles stolen and break-ins due to those owners having that type of car," St. Louis Police Officer Regiana Moore said.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Moore handed out 100 free car clubs that were donated by Kia and Hyundai.

"3:50 p.m. we were all out of the free car clubs, so we had additional car clubs on hand to sell for $15," Moore said.

The additional 150 car clubs for purchase were through a partnership with Five Star Senior Center. 

People still paid, because they said they can't find them anywhere else.

"I've been to Walmart. I've been to AutoZone. I've been to all different places. Nobody had them," Rhodes said.

"They've sold out everywhere, sold out. No clubs," Jones said.

Hyundai announced car owners will be able to purchase a security kit that will prevent the USB access method beginning Oct.1, but people demand more.

"They need to have a recall and do something about it. They need to pay for this. It's terrible," Perkins said.

People could either drive up to the giveaway in their Kia or Hyundai to get a steering wheel lock or provide proof of ownership or registration.

This isn't the first time St. Louis police held a car club giveaway.

Moore said car clubs help deter thieves from stealing cars because of the amount of time it takes to break a steering wheel lock.

She said after seeing the demand today, they're highly considering having another one.

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