JENNINGS, Mo. – Officials from car manufacturer Hyundai were in Jennings this weekend to offer a free anti-theft software installation for vehicle owners.

Thieves have targeted Hyundai cars in recent years because of ongoing security issues that make them easy to steal.

St. Louis City reported nearly 2,500 car thefts in 2022. In the first four months of 2023, the number of car thefts skyrocketed to nearly 4,400. Between Hyundai and Kia vehicles, thefts rose approximately 673% in that timeframe.

Similar circumstances exist in St. Louis County. Last year, there were nearly 3,300 car break-ins in the county. Thus far in 2023, there have been almost 1,700, more than half of which are Hyundai and Kia.

“What the police tell us is they have a high theft rate, and they want help,” David VandeLinde, vice president of after-sales for Hyundai Motor America, said.

According to VanderLinde, models built before 2021 with base trim features and key ignitions, don’t have much in the way of anti-theft devices, which allows thieves to bypass vehicle security features.

That’s why Hyundai is going across the country and offering a security software installation for those vehicles. The two-day event, hosted at the Urban League offices in Jennings, also provides car owners with steering wheel locks.

Pat Washington, executive vice president of communications and special projects for the Urban League, says car thefts have lingering ripple effects on victims and communities.

“The people who have their cars stolen immediately fall into a spiral. They can’t go to work, they lose their job,” he said. “Lose your job; tensions in the household. Tensions in the household lead to domestic violence.”

VanderLinde says they’ll work on about 600 cars here in the region before hitting their next stop.