ST. LOUIS – As the number of stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles has increased, new technology is trying to deter thieves before they steal your vehicle.

With just a press of a button, a new device called the “Bluetooth Interrupter” stops thieves in their tracks.

“You can do this all day long, but you cannot start the car,” said Elliot Silk, services director for Suntrup Kia and Hyundai.

The always-on key connects to Bluetooth wiring in the car that is designed to prevent theft.

“It’s one thing to replace the glass and the steering column, it’s the other thing if people have a 2013,” Silk said. “They have to buy a whole new car because their car was totaled out, and that’s what I’m preventing.”

According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, car thefts in the city have increased from 3,596 to 6,661 compared to 2021. Of those, 3,643 have been reported as Kia and Hyundai thefts, which is more than last year’s total combined.

“As this catches on and more people keep calling us and installing, it’s going to cut down on thefts,” Silk said.

Suntrup technicians have installed the technology in cars for more than 100 customers thus far. The installation costs $200 and can be used on any make and model car.

“It seems we’re storing more of them than we can actually fix them,” said Jeff Sonntag, service manager at Wicke Auto Service and Body Co.

Sonntag has been fixing cars for over 20 years at the shop in the Central West End.

A few months ago, the auto repair shop would be packed with stolen Kias and Hyundais being worked on. Now, there is only one Kia at the shop because the demand for repairs outweighs the supply of parts.

“We get calls every day,” Sonntag said. “I just put them on a list and say I’ll try and call you and see, but I have yet to ever hit that list because there are no parts out there. There’s nothing.”

Although Sonntag believes the interrupter is a big help, he noted that between the pandemic and supply chain slowdown, he sees no end in sight for the backlog of cars waiting to be fixed, if they are ever even recovered.

The hope is that with new technology, more thieves will think twice before another car ends up in a shop.

To learn more about the new device, click here.