A steering wheel lock is placed on a Hyundai vehicle to prevent it from being stolen. | Photo: Park Forest Police Department

Police are warning residents in Lake County who own Kia or Hyundai vehicles following a rash of stolen vehicles as part of an ongoing nationwide problem.

The Zion Police Department said they are investigating several incidents of theft and attempted theft involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles that have keyed ignitions.

The offenders are forcibly entering the vehicles and using a “long-known hardware exploit” that does not require an ignition key to be present, according to Zion Police Department Lt. Derek Zaloudek.

The problem is nationwide and not a new trend, but Zaloudek said there has been a recent rash of thefts this month.

Officers in Zion made a felony arrest and detectives are following leads to identify multiple other offenders.

Zaloudek said owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles should take steps to prevent the thefts.

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Owners should park their vehicles in a secure garage if possible. Those who cannot park in a garage should park in a well-lit area.

Cars should be locked when parked and valuables should be removed from them.

“Perhaps most importantly, be diligent and report suspicious activity in your neighborhood. While we always prefer to be able to communicate with complainants to gather additional information either in person or by phone, anonymous calls may be made to our dispatch center and police officers will still investigate the complaint if merited,” Zaloudek said.

In August 2022, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart issued a warning to Chicago area residents after law enforcement began seeing a dramatic increase in the thefts specifically targeting Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

Dart said videos had been posted on TikTok and other social media platforms showing how to exploit vulnerabilities in the vehicles.