Howard County police have closed a total of eight Hyundai and Kia thefts--part of a nation-wide trend-- through recent arrests. Detectives are continuing to conduct surveillance details in an effort to stem these types of thefts and have organized a steering wheel lock giveaway for targeted vehicles.

Xavier Noel Mitchell, 19, of Laurel, has been charged in seven vehicle thefts/attempts between August and October in Columbia, Laurel, and a neighboring jurisdiction. A 15-year-old male, of Columbia, has been charged in a separate case from March 16 that occurred in Columbia.

Residents are encouraged to take steps to make their vehicle less likely to be targeted:

  • Contact Hyundai (toll-free at 800-633-5151) or Kia (toll-free at 800-333-4542) for information on their anti-theft software update.
  • Use a steering wheel lock. Even if the vehicle is started, it cannot be operated if the wheel lock is in place properly.
  • Practice standard vehicle theft safety measures such as parking in a secured access lot or personal garage if possible.
  • Always lock your doors and consider activating tracking software or adding a tracking device such as an AirTag to make it easier to locate if stolen.

Detectives have organized a Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council grant-funded steering wheel lock giveaway for owners of 2016-2021 Hyundais and 2011-2021 Kias that require a traditional key to start. Locks are available to Maryland residents who bring the license and registration to the Northern or Southern District Station tomorrow, March 25 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., while supplies last.


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