ST. LOUIS – Hyundai and Kia thefts spiked to alarming rates last year in the St. Louis area, almost 10 times more than in previous years.

One St. Louis car dealer is looking to combat the problem. Elliott Silk with Suntrup Automotive has helped repurpose a built-in device to offer another option besides traditional car clubs.

According to a recent FOX News report, Silk’s team “redesigned an off-the-shelf Bluetooth switch so that it could be hardwired to the car and immobilize the ignition. The driver just needs to authorize it via a remote keychain fob while turning the steel key to start the vehicle.”

The new device automatically activates, and its design makes it difficult for a car thief to disable in a timely manner, according to the report.

Police claim the ability to steal a Kia or Hyundai became wide-known from a TikTok trend earlier this year, leading to a spike in such thefts not only in St. Louis, but also nationwide. Many believe these videos first started gaining attention on YouTube last year.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the International Association of Special Investigation Units sent a joint letter to YouTube’s chief executive officer, Susan Wojcicki, earlier this week over the trend. The agencies urged the social media platform to post “how to” videos to remove, which contains detailed instructions for theft of Kia and Hyundai cars.

Last August, the St. Louis city counselor’s office also sent letters demanding action from Kia and Hyundai, criticizing the car manufacturers for failing to install an engine immobilizer in many of their vehicles.