MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 5,000 vehicles have been stolen in the city of Memphis this year, according to the Memphis Police Department.
The police department was doing their part to help citizens protect their vehicles with a steering wheel lock giveaway Tuesday.
This line of vehicles outside the Memphis Police Austin Peay Precinct went on for several blocks down Austin Peay Highway. Every one of these drivers was in line for one purpose: to try to prevent their vehicle from being stolen.
“I’d like to have me a couple tigers in here. So, when they break in here, they can eat them up,” driver Cecil Robinson said.
The Memphis Police department gave away 1,000 steering wheel locks at the Austin Peay and the Mount Moriah precincts. All the locks were donated by KIA.
According to Memphis police, 5,390 vehicles were stolen between Jan. 1 and May 10 of this year.
At the top of the list are KIAs and Hyundais, making up more than 2,000 of the cars stolen.
Patricia Phillips says her KIA Soul was stolen last year. When she got it back three months later, she says she had to pay $5,000 for repairs.
“Bullet holes, and this tire over here was busted out and a dent was all on the doors,” Phillips said.
Due to a rash of KIA and Hyundai thefts across the country, the automakers have agreed to pay roughly $200 million to settle a class action lawsuit after a defect was discovered in the vehicles, making them easier to steal.
MPD says juveniles are among the top offenders.
Phillips says despite the defect and the financial hassle, she has no plans on giving up her car.
“They always want me to trade it in, but I’m going to always keep it. I’m going to keep my vehicle because when I was younger and I seen these cars, this was my dream car,” she said.
MPD says all the locks were handed out within an hour of starting. The department says they plan on hosting more giveaways later this year.